Dec 19, 2008

Odds & Ends… LR2.2 Growing Pains

Software release is both an exciting and problematic process. Engineers work long and hard to 'dot every I and cross every T...'. But, they're human. On release date, somebody writes a summary of the progress notifying the public. Then everybody downloads and starts to use the software. Soon, this blog and that forum begin to have questions about new problems.

Today's entry deals with some solutions for a couple of those aspects. Victoria Bampton is one of Lightroom Forum's gurus. As a moderator for Lightroom, she gets early warning about things that don't quite work right. Her website Lightroom Queen contains quick posts as a heads up. She also has an e-book for Lightroom 2.
Matt Kloskowski gave a video description of Adobe Camera Raw 5.2 (ACR) at PhotoshopUser TV. Matt describes tools which originated in Lightroom 2 and are migrating to ACR and CS4. This video will be available free to NAPP and public users through next Sunday. After that, only NAPP can access it. ACR 5.2 currently works with CS4; ACR 4.6 works with CS3.
A troublesome aspect of 2.2 is repetition of beta and new camera profiles. Matt also gives us a technique for removing beta’s so we only access new camera profiles under Camera Calibration.

As you might suspect, there's continuing development on the v. 5 ACR's whereas v. 4.6 has reached a standstill. So, you ask, "What do I do to have these new features if I use CS3?"
As you noted from a prior post, Lightroom 2.2 contains ACR 5.2 (doubling its size). So, if you're using LR2.2 in conjunction with CS3, you can continue upward mobility through the Lightroom series as new tools are added to Camera Raw.

Dec 17, 2008

What's Under Your Lightroom Hood?

Lightroom 2.2

Another download round is ahead - Adobe released Lightroom 2.2 Monday. The next day, many blogs reported availability. I scanned through those blogs, looking for major differences. Not a lot was apparent at first glance...
In Tom Hogarty's list of bug fixes, about 40% of Adobe's effort went into separating and strengthening graduated filter and adjustment brush. I also find it interesting to read the comments written to Hogarty from the Lightroom community. In his chatty way, Matt Kloskowski made a preliminary comment about his delight with the revised adjustment brush. Matt also made a suggestion about cleaning up your camera calibration presets. Other than that, few other bloggers had much new to say.
After installing 2.2, I asked Lightroom an under-the-hood question, "Okay, what about Camera Raw?" Rather quickly, I learned Lightroom is now based on Camera Raw 5.2. And our new 5.2 contains…
Targeted Adjustment Tool (TAT) for on-image adjustments (i.e. click and drag on a certain color or tonal range to adjust the corresponding values) [#3 behind Grad filter and Adj brush]
"Snapshots" for saving multiple sets of settings per file
Camera Profiles for enhanced raw file interpretation now available in the Calibration panel
In early CS3 time (was it only 18 months ago?), Adobe began releasing Camera Raw as version 4.0. What a neat release - now, I could begin quickly modifying a range of variables in my raw images before I finally dealt with CS3. With this October's release of CS4, Adobe upgraded Camera Raw to version 5.1. Suddenly, it was twice as large. And just before that release, Lightroom 2 was released. A month later, 5.2 was available - oops; it's now five times larger. And, Lightroom 2.2 is now twice as large as Lightroom 2.
So I went back and reviewed Adobe's release policy. Turned out to be a useful step - during Lightroom 1 time, a couple of things got released ~ then had to be re-released. To me, that means always keep a working backup.
I suspect much of Adobe’s effort to fix and separate brushes we love to use in Lightroom 2.2 actually takes place in Camera Raw. I know Hogarty said in the recently noted podcast - it takes time between release of Camera Raw and inclusion of appropriate hooks in Lightroom. Perhaps they're using Adobe Camera Raw to simplify differences between Bridge and Lightroom. I could be wrong; but, software enhancements do take time...
Beyond speed enhancements, I suspect you're going to find Lightroom 2.2 a smoother way to make your nondestructive raw image preprocessing a much more productive and subtly enjoyable series of steps.
Merry Christmas...

Dec 12, 2008

Rave - 100 $2 Bills Become $19K

2 Dollar Bill

Normally a lurker (reads but rarely comments), I read another inspiring marketing piece yesterday. I've been following David Ziser's blog for some time. David writes about photography and chooses marketing as a topic every Thursday. David's Business Day blog for December 11, 2008, says it all, illustrating a highly innovative photographer's approach...
Kevin Newsome, mentioned in PPA magazine, found a great photographic way to advertise out-of-the-box! With 100 $2 bills and a thoughtful letter, Kevin approached former clients, suggesting they bring in their $2 bills and family, check the serial number, get a bonus gift certificate, then let Kevin take family portraits. And, of the hundred families, 19 responded and Kevin saw a handsome profit.
There are more details at both Ziser's blog and Kevin's site.
I just thought I'd rant a little bit… I think this is one of the most creative ideas I've read in some time. Naturally, in today's financial climate, innovative ideas such as Kevin's may make that major difference between survival and...
Thanks, David and Kevin...

Dec 11, 2008

A Hogarty Lightroom Podcast Interview

What, no picture?  I know; you're all digital photographers and you like to see marvelous landscapes.  But podcasts are audio, not visual!  So I'm going to revert from audio to storytelling.

Tom Hogarty, Adobe Product Manager for Lightroom, Camera Raw, and DNG, gave an interesting interview in a recent podcast.  Three photography experts at discussed various aspects of Lightroom with Tom for over an hour.  In that hour, Hogarty expressed many viewpoints concerning Lightroom.  Among the questioner’s highlights:
Why did you guys design Lightroom? 
Lightroom represents the best parts of a digital photographer’s environment.  We added catalogs, we store previews, and we let you work on the catalog even when full images are not on that particular computer.
Are there advantages to DNG files?
DNG (Digital Negative) files have two advantages.  Near-term - lossless compression can make the file smaller.  You don't need sidecar files; metadata is saved in the DNG.  You can update the preview in the DNG to show processing changes.  You may also prevent proprietary formats from dying.
What's the purpose of the DNG Editor?
Many photographers see the cameras LCD image and like it.  Raw files can initially look flat.  The LCD image is JPEG.  So we developed camera calibration profiles to let you modify DNG images.  The LR 2.2 release this month contains the final release of these camera profiles.
In podcast E163 (120808), the NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) guys, Scott Kelby, Matt Kloskowski, and Dave Cross recently discussed noise reduction.  Essentially, they suggest external plug-ins are more powerful than noise reduction in Photoshop products.  BTW, NAPP provides a two week window for free video download of tips and tricks for Photoshop users.
Now, back to Hogarty; What are plans for better noise reduction in Lightroom?
While Tom won't speculate on future releases, he did indicate noise reduction  has been strongly requested and Adobe listens carefully.

While I list some highlights, your interests may vary.  I suggest you download and listen to the podcast; I'm sure that during the hour interview, you'll find many things which interest you.  If you right-click on the Audio MP3 download button, choosing Save Target lets you download an MP3 file which you can hear via iTunes at your leisure.

Dec 10, 2008

Rave – Quick Workflow and Support

TheLightroomLab - Quick Flags

I’ve begun reading Scott Rouse of TheLightroomLab regularly. Scott’s with Rock Mountain School of Photography, writes a great blog, and likes to create clear, visual tutorials directly related to easing Lightgroom workflows. Best of all, Scott will respond directly to email, offer suggestions, and add to your learning curve.
So, what’s this particular rave about?
As you see from this picture Scott created, there is a simple way to quickly flag and process digital images in Lightroom. I suggest you download this workflow, then study it. Scott shows you some really neat tricks.

But, beyond that, Troy Gaul (Adobe) also chimed in with additional comments about shortcuts which help you move around in Lightroom. Here’s what Troy said,
“One other keyboard shortcut worth knowing: in Lightroom 2, we changed the “tilde” key (in the top-left corner of US keyboards) to toggle the pick flag on or off.
The benefit is that this key is easier to reach than the P and U keys in the middle of the keyboard, and it can go both ways. When refining photos from a shoot, you can quickly use it to toggle the flag on to make your picks, and then go through the picks (with a filter) and toggle the flag back off for the ones that you decide you don’t want to keep, all using the same key.
To mark something as a Reject, you still have to use the X key (X, for what it’s worth, was selected because rejecting a photo is similar to “crossing it out”). On QWERTY keyboards it also falls near the left side of the keyboard.
Troy Gaul - Adobe engineer - Dec 9 - TheLightroomLab Comments”

Way to go, Scott! Thanks for both doing the heavy work and getting this extra tip from Troy. Troy, thanks for really getting involved!
Moving around in Lightroom with shortcuts is an important part of developing quick workflow…

Dec 1, 2008

Books on My Mind, Again...

Photoshop Insider - Lightroom Video for Books

Seems like there's always something I don't know!
I'm amidst the final edit for some Christmas books for my Grand Girls.  Oops, good thing I'm editing; forgot an entire page and photograph.  But that's just my travail at good writing.
This morning, I'm looking at Photoshop Insider by Scott Kelby.  Scott's recent vacation blog has created a lot of excited response.  So he decided to put up videos for Aperture, Lightroom 2, and CS4 and show photographers how to make books.  Sure enough, Scott came up with a whole new way to make a fine art book from Lightroom using Mpix.  Take a look!

You can get to a big version from Lightroom on YouTube (the one above is to show you what Scott did – not download).

Nov 28, 2008

Creative Christmas Books

Maddy and Erin

Best of Show
As of now, my daughter and granddaughter, heads lovingly together, are the best of some 1400 images. Their beauty is apparent; they are deeply linked by heart and heritage. They make me very proud…

Times are tight, money’s slow; what can you create for grandkids or kids or a loved one for Christmas?

I’ve got a Family Collection Set in Lightroom!
I went back to my first digital images, began collecting by year, then by event ~ pretty soon, I had over 1400 images. Then Scott Kelby published a blog on his travel workflow. Bottom line ~ he created 2 Collection Sets with Picks for books – 1 Pick for family Vacation, another for Fine Art. Bingo ~ new idea. Thanks, Scott...
For me, this meant creating two unique Christmas books; one for each grand girl. I didn't really want a collection of both; I'd rather have each girl get her own book to create her own memories.
Enter Lightroom's Picks; I simply go through and flag images of both girls, then separate them into individual Collection Sets in the main Lightroom catalog. When I had individual sets ready, I'd export them to main desktop catalog, move that to the laptop, then work up the book on the laptop using Blurb BookSmart. When done, I'd Export the modified desktop catalogs to the studio laptop, then Import them to the main Lightroom catalog. As my last step, I'd move any auxiliary BookSmartData files from Blurb over under Projects folder on my studio computer’s external hard drive.

Standard Lightroom Pick Workflow
There's real power in Lightroom's Pick flag. If you see a photo you like, simply press P and Lightroom sets a flag on that image. Then create a picks collection set with Best, Both, Grandpa, Kylie, and Maddy. Since I'm collecting images per girl for the last four years, I've got to go through several individual Collection Sets from 2004-2008 to compile one set just for that girl. It's just a matter of being patient; 1444 originals boiled down to 67 starters. That will become 40 finalists when the girl’s books are done.
Drudgery is over...

Family Collection Sets

Creative Blurb Workflow
Now the fun begins!
Photomatix has a plug-in for Lightroom; it allows me to preload Lightroom images to make an HDR image. Plug-ins really simplify set up steps I am about to describe. But, when I checked HDRsoft, Blurb had no mention of any plug-ins for Lightroom (too bad!).
So it was time to wing it and create my own workflow. I chose a standard 10x8 20 page softcover book from Blurb. I then chose a picture layout with one column for text and a title.
With both Lightroom and BookSmart open, I created one page at a time in BookSmart. If I had an image in Lightroom, I'd look at it, decide if it was how I wanted presented in the book, make changes with the Develop module if necessary, then click the Export button and save that image as a full JPEG in a folder for one girl.
Using Get Photos from BookSmart, I'd go get that photo and import it to BookSmart. I'd then drag and drop that photo onto the gray image area on each page. Then, I begin to write a description of memories that particular image evoked. Pretty soon, I'd have all 20 pages done.
Before I forget, my first two steps were to choose memorable images which I thought were Best of Kid then put them on front and back covers of each book.

I had the idea about noon one day; by noon the next day, the first book was ready to print for proofing. Yes, I did some back-and-forth as I decided how I wanted that book to look. But I knew once I had that book’s format, I had the second book nearly done!
After the proof step (or steps - I nag at words as I edit), I simply upload the book, purchase a copy, it comes by mail, I wrap it, and a girls heartfelt Christmas present is ready... with lots of deep love from grandpa and true delight on Christmas Day!

BTW, there's another aspect to this work. If I'm skillful in my writing, I'll be able to remind my granddaughters of an early history both through gorgeous pictures and clearly expressed love and feelings! Now, I consider that a low dollar creative family Christmas history...

Nov 25, 2008

Bosque’s Memorable Brilliance

Bosque's Memorable Brilliance

©Joe Bridwell
A cold but still morning found Bosque birds on the move. As the sun burned underbellies of capping clouds and began lightening distant hills, hunger called birds aloft.
A relatively short handheld lens ranged behind this flock; yet, image clarity balances an off-axis presence of the uppermost bird, where all are capped by morning’s glory.
Although these birds are normally white-gray, morning’s gentle, forgiving light, filtered through distant atmosphere lying east, shows such a wonderful concordance of soft, pastel color between sharp, in-focus birds and slightly out-of-focus hills as backdrop.
Nikon D300, 70-300mm, 155mm, 1/500, f4.5, iso 200, 0700 112308

Laptop Workflow
These days, my blog or workshop is written on a laptop. I put an image in Word, I pick up a microphone, and I begin to talk around the image. Pretty soon, a well edited piece, often containing multiple images, is the result.
That morning, I filled two 4 GB cards. With other commitments, it took a day before I actually uploaded the cards; I put images on the studio's external hard drive.

But Lightroom 2 contains a lot of the 'grease' to simplify this process. Indeed, this image took a few minor nondestructive changes and it was ready to publish. To start the blog, I needed to do several things:
1. Go through initial images, throwing away out-of-focus or badly composed images. Voilà... essentially, shooting rapid fire, many shots produced only a few usable images.
2. To make that decision, I uploaded all cards, imported images with metadata, then went through using flags to Pick (P) or Reject (X).
3. With a 4 a.m. Bosque departure, when those cards were uploaded, I was still tired. So I exported images converted on the studio to make flag choices on laptop, then re-imported to begin development.
4. Bosque’s Memorable Brilliance used Lightroom's Develop module to perform the following steps:
a. Create a Virtual Copy of original DNG image.
b. Tweak Exposure, Clarity, Vibrance, Strong Tone Contrast, TAT (Lighten Clouds), Gradient Filter, and Landscape Sharpen Preset. I do this color work on studio computer with a calibrated monitor.
c. Save as a full-size JPEG.
d. Downsize JPEG using CS3 and return image to catalog.
5. Export appropriate images to laptop to write this blog.
6. When I'm done, it'll end up on an external hard drive on the studio computer with main catalog up to date from this new effort.

Checkout Scott Kelby’s Laptop Workflow In today's Photoshop Insider blog, Scott Kelby talked about a recent vacation where he used Lightgroom’s Collections, flags, and labels to quickly create Picks and Selects for a Travel Slideshow and a Fine Art Book.
For this Bosque trip, I shot two classes of images; birds in flight and five shot HDR still images. I found Collecting five HDR images in a unique collection let me quickly use the Photomatix plug-in to decide if HDR shots were any good.

Nov 18, 2008

Blog Rolls

Blog Rolls - Dynamic Table of Contents

Last summer, my digital horizons began expanding.  Quickly, I became aware there are good blogs, better blogs, and consistently top blogs.  Before I began blogging, I was using browser favorites to keep up with what was new.  It might take an hour per morning to browse, download the PDF, and read at some other time.  I didn't want to sign up for e-mail or RSS; it seemed better to download if I needed it rather than to have it crud up an already beleaguered hard drive.
Then I began constructing my own blog.  Some of its benefits included Blog Rolls (Blog List from Google gadgets), an automatic feature under Layouts.  One can create a series of blog rolls on the right-hand side of the blog.  So I began to include blogs; rather than calling them a dull thing like Blog Rolls, I could create my own names (Big Guy’s (Gal's) Blogs).

New Way Home...
I really enjoy Blog Rolls now; there's provider's name, title, and how long ago the provider put that blog on the net.  Now, it's like a dynamic Table of Contents – latest first.  If I like the title, I click on it - just that blog comes on my screen, then I save it to a PDF.  If one of the blogs runs a regular progression on a certain weekday, and it is a very long download, I click on the provider's name, go down to the blog, and make a PDF.

Now, each time I read a new blogger, I'll look through their blog rolls and add anyone of new interest to my list.  Pretty quickly, I find out if they are active bloggers - top bloggers (content and timeliness) sort to the top each day.
When I found Lightroom Forums, I subscribed to several threads.  Now, at a glance, I can see where the latest newbie is confused, then read a moderator's clearly explained fix.
Or, in several Lightroom specific blogs, I might find a tutorial example which clearly shows a complicated workflow like merging catalogs using snapshots of different panels.

Try it; you might really like Blog Rolls for your blog...
Or, simply use mine!

Nov 17, 2008

Lightroom Work Style

Lightroom Import Export Menu

Lightroom 2.1 File Menu – Catalog Import/Export Controls
When I recently took note of the Lightroom Forums community, I was seeking an answer to the complex question, "What is the difference between Main and Multiple Catalogs?" At that time, I've been reading along the digital photographers trail. That is: shoot them, import them, keyword them, and the job gets done with a main catalog.
At the same time, I was working my way through integrated workflows, trying to make Lightroom an integral part of my paradigm; shooting and writing! For me, writing occurs around an image. But it's more than that. Writing is the way where conscious and subconscious come together to express and mature unrecognized feelings and reorder awareness.

Needing to create a six part Lightroom, Photomatix, CS3 workflow for February, 2009, I fell back to years of working in Windows. I'd start off with an idea, put an image in Word, pick up a microphone, and begin to talk... on screen, words and feelings would appear around the image. Now, most writers I've read say writing is very hard. For me, it's a process which may take days; it's a process where I constantly have to edit - therein lies the problem. I've developed a habitat where it might take 5 or 10 edits to get a piece written. After a night of sleep, I might come back, make a change to an image, and keep on truckin’.
Since this is a description of a tumultuous, non-planned process, the pieces, the changing images - all appeared with Roman numbers for each edition and all appeared in folders (sometimes different folders depending on either capricious mind or state of progress).
Now, that tumultuous process is exactly what goes against the neat main catalog you see in digital photography books for Lightroom image organization. Here I was, creating multiple images in multiple versions with multiple folders. I'd begun to realize the laptop was a very creative environment whereas the desktop is more of a storage environment (particularly after I finally calibrated the laptop screen for CS3).
So I needed to gain control of this wretched tumult, consolidate images in one form and Word documents in another, and get on with my real-life ~ an abiding love for wild things and wilderness photography.

So I patiently drilled back into Scott Kelby's The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 Book for Digital Photographers. I could not find an exact solution to the problem which vexed me. So, it took more digging to reach a satisfactory answer. To my surprise, in the Library module lying under Import from Catalog and Export as Catalog, lay a very powerful set of answers.
Tongue-in-cheek, let me quote Scott Kelby, referring to his laptop, "The file structure you see here stinks. It's the one I use when I'm writing books, which has never been, nor sadly will ever be, very organized." Scott just didn’t bother to tell us exactly how he solved the disorder problem…

To make a long story short, I've consolidated all images for each phase of the six part workflow into their own folders. I've exported them to a main catalog, then sent it by ethernet to the studio computer. I've collected all writings, thrown away earlier edit versions, and etherneted that folder to a project folders on the studio's external hard drive. Others may use USB 2 or FireWire external hard drives instead of ethernet.

Thanks to Adobe engineers design skill and a little discipline on my part, I'm trying to be a bit more organized...

Nov 11, 2008

Golden Girls

Jackie, Kathy, & Wild Horses

As we rolled south from Shidoni Foundry, the conversation turned to wild horses.  Several months ago, a couple of us were shown where wild horses roam. 
When Kathy gets an idea in her mind, it takes a hard grip to wrench it away.  We had talked many times about 'going on a horse shoot...'.  After Jackie help me win an award for Lavender Dawn, she came on board as well.
But several circumstances - operation, moving, etc. - prevented shooting horses on location.
I suggested, "Jackie, turn at this next intersection and get over on the eastern frontage road.  We might see some horses..."

To our amazement, a small band was directly ahead in the field near a new housing development.  Soon, we were out of the car and among ‘em, cameras clicking.
Between that first wild horse shoot and now, Kathy had a recent, major back operation.  While she was along to shoot, she wasn't allowed to drive yet.
We quickly began to shoot in our individual directions. 

Jackie enticed the young colt with some hay, hoping to shoot a real, exotic close up.  Locals tend to bring hay to feed these wild animals.  In a subsequent picture, the colt got his feet to the top of a little gully’s edge - then stopped, front feet braced.  I could imagine him feeling, "I don't know this gal; she's really quiet.  Can she be trusted?"

Jackie & Colt

Kathy wanted to get up sun; a caretaker, I kept a close eye out in case she got in trouble.  In evening's final golden sheen of magic light, I got about three shots of Kathy and her favorite paint horse...
Seems like this picture really says it all, "Golden Girls, finally, with a lot of water under each individual bridge, we did get our first wild horse shoot.  Doesn't it simply whet your appetite for more?"

Kathy & Paint

As for me, I feel Kathy’s having the chance to wander free, to celebrate with her camera, to shoot wild horses - I watched her happy, about 15 years old, and in her own gorgeous element.

May I share a Praise ~ Each of us had good fortune this day.  From Shidoni to Wild Horses - part of the magic of gorgeous shoots in such different environs!

Nov 10, 2008

Shidoni's Color Scapes

Shidoni Foundry Metal Work Shapes

Shidoni Foundry, a fascinating photo adventure, is located in Tesuque, NM. With a museum, a yard full of unique shapes, and deep fascination of a roaring, hot metal pouring room, the foundry is a mecca for photographers.
Some 20 of us spent an excited Saturday wandering Shidoni. It was like we were on some other planet...

Pouring Hot Metal
Metal workers, clad in metallic heat reflection gear, seemed ghostly shapes from a science fiction novel. Were they really Klingons?

Shidoni Foundry Metal Retrieval

Here we've just retrieved a red hot iron cask full of flaming, molten metal. It's interesting ~ the man on the left, although some distance from the cask, reflects lots of heat.
Here's a close up ~ they set the cask on a base to cool slightly. I find it fascinating that flames are coming up off the liquid metal.

Shidoni Foundry Metal Cooling

Notice the cooler cask rim after workers set it in the crane-mounted pouring device. It's only the second pour for this set of shapes. I was lucky enough to catch a splatter shot - don't you love the flaming hot metal streaking away across the sand below? The roaring sound of the heater drowned any talk within earshot - unless shouted!

Shidoni Foundry Metal Pouring

It's almost like Fourth of July fireworks; oops, really, it's just some Klingon warship factory. Wouldn't want to get one of those flaming metal streaks caught in an open top boot...

We've seen how metal figures are cast at Shidoni's Foundry. Now, let's look at physical manifestations of this incredible process.

Outdoor Shapes
Outdoor figures seem from other worlds ~ yet with their own picturesque beauty.
From an eagle in a pond fishing, to a red box, to an abstract silver figure, then another dark, distant eagle... Shidoni’s yard is fascinating! Would beings from another world cheer?
Our image is a high dynamic range (HDR) mid-afternoon composite.
Our poster is color-coordinated - more subtle, pastel colors are chosen from within the image to create a complementary boundary.

Was this art or science fiction? The entire pouring shoot took about five minutes.

Nov 2, 2008

Forums and Firmware

Lightroom Forums D300 Firmware 1.1

In the midst of thinking like a Windows Explorer guru, I’ve been battling with one BIG vs many little Lightroom catalogs. If you can make an easy folder for each new project (blog, story, individual shoot, multiday shoot, workflow, etc.), then, should you carry that 'individualist' logic forward into Lightroom? I've been using individual folders for new projects for quite awhile. But, with a recent iPod, I've also been consolidating singles, albums, and podcasts into playlists, a simile to main catalogs, working catalogs, and collections.

Lightroom Forums are a planet-wide group of photographers interested in maximizing Lightroom use. From newbie to guru, a reader benefits from all levels of discussion as they grow into advanced use of Lightroom. I finally found a thread titled, "Should I be using multiple catalogs?"

It was like walking up this dry creek, looking for small, occasional loose flecks of gold, rounding a corner, and finding a dike containing a handful of gold nuggets the size of your thumb (almost wrote fist…).

Brad Snyder, Lightroom Guru and Moderator, posted,
"I think the most common arrangement among workflows I'm aware of, is a combination of 'working catalog' and Year/Month/Date 'archive catalog'. That is a single small scratch catalog used for active work (presumptively for max performance) and a large master catalog used for archival/retrieval.
"If you intend to use LR as a Digital Asset Management system, it doesn't make sense to break it into multiple chunks, requiring duplicate efforts of keyword, metadata and collection maintenance, and synchronization."

This response is similar to many during the month-long discussion about multiple threads.
I think in individual projects, some of which extend over long periods of time on the same image set as it evolves; I also do lots of work on a laptop; looks like it's really time to learn mechanics of creating an idea in a working laptop catalog, then using the Import Catalog function to combine working catalog and server’s master Lightroom catalog.
As if it was just that easy...

Nikon D300 Firmware Update 1.1
October 27, 2008, Nikon released a significant firmware upgrade.

There's a page of improvements. In my opinion, they boil down to Increasing ISO Sensitivity, Adding a Copyright Symbol, a Visible Value of High ISO NR, Improved Focus Acquisition Performance, and Noise Reduction under Manual Exposure at Bulb Shutter Speeds.
Installation instructions are clear; I find it takes a few minutes and perhaps 1% of battery to install these updates.

Both forums and firmware update significantly broaden efforts of a digital photographer to function with improved efficiency.

Oct 30, 2008

Tony Hillerman, 1925-2008

From my vantage point along the ancient dike, the Sun had dropped below the western horizon, casting long shadows down its backside. Yet, direct sunlight was reflecting from Ship Rock. A slight front was trending southeastward from Utah, up north past Four Corners. Highest cirrus clouds, seeming to consolidate the eye, jaded from Ship Rock's beauty, trailed to the edge of the world.

The basalt dike, Mother Nature's bold brickwork wall, trending from the upper right edge toward distant Ship Rock, acted as an arresting lower frame for our image. Magic Hour's shifting sunset pastel lights, some direct, some reflected, add a softer, evocative upper element.

Ship Rock, that ancient almost Gothic spires lit by the setting Sun's golden hues, assists with the same silent wonder, bears prolonged silent witness to man's wanderings across this dry, semi-arid desert. The distant Roman nose shape of Sleeping Ute Mountain is another famous, dominant Four Corners landmark.

Tony Hillerman Memorial 1925-2008

"I love the place," Tony Hillerman wrote of vast tribal lands that span the northeast corner of Arizona and straddle the borders of New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. "I need only drive west from Shiprock into that great emptiness to feel my spirit lift."

Over 10 years ago, Hillerman penned The Fallen Man

They could see the snowcapped top of Mount Taylor looming over Grants, New Mexico, about 80 miles to the east, perched on one of relatively few outcrops of basalt in what Ship Rock climbers call Rappel Gulley. On the way up, it was the launching point for the final hard climb to the summit, a slightly tilted but flat surface of basalt about the size of a desk-top and 1721 feet above the prairie below. If you were going down, it was where you began a shorter but even harder almost vertical climb to reach the slope that led you downward with a fair chance of not killing yourself.

Whiteside slid along the wall, getting closer. He was moving slowly along the cliff, body almost perfectly vertical, toes holding his way on perhaps an inch of sloping stone, his fingers finding the cracks, crevices, and rough spots that would keep him balanced if the wind gusted. He was doing the traverse perfectly. Beautiful to watch. Even the body was perfect for the purpose. Just bone, skin, and muscle, without an ounce of surplus weight, moving like an insect against the cracked basalt wall.

And 1000 feet below them - no, a quarter of a mile below him lay "the surface of the world." Almost directly below, two Navajos on horseback were riding along the base of the monolith - tiny figures that put the risk of what Whiteside was doing into terrifying perspective. If he slipped, Whiteside would die, but not for a while. It would take time for a body to drop 600 feet, then bounce from an outcrop, and fall again, and bounce and fall, until it finally rested among the boulders at the bottom of this strange old volcanic core.

It was late afternoon, but the autumn sun was far North and the shadow of Ship Rock already stretched southeastward for miles across the tan prairie. Winter would soon end the climbing season. The sun was already so low it reflected only from the very tip of Mount Taylor. Eighty miles away early snows already packed the higher peaks in Colorado's San Juan's. Not a cloud anywhere. The sky was a deep dry-country blue; the air was cool and, a rarity at this altitude, utterly still.

The silence was so absolute one could hear the faint sibilance of Whiteside's soft rubber shoe sole as he shifted a foot along the stone. A couple of hundred feet below them, a red-tailed hawk drifted along, riding an updraft of air along the cliff face.
Whiteside moved, and stopped, and looked down.
"There's more honeycomb breccia under the overhang," he said. "Lots of little erosion cavities. It looks like some pretty good cracking where you can see basalt." He shifted again. "A pretty good shelf down about _"

Silence. Then, Whiteside said, "I think I see a helmet."
"My God!" Whiteside said. "There's a skull in it."
Tony Hillerman, 1996

Over the past 20 years, I've read and reread Hillerman's fascinating novels of the Four Corners. I was deeply captivated with Tony's description of Skinwalkers, Navajo tradition, and the land he so deeply loved. At times, cassette tape players spun breathtaking tales of Leaphorn and Chee as I trekked repeatedly into those beloved wilderness lands Hillerman brought to life in his novels.

Tony... your full life, your incredible ability to tell stories, your writing - I'm simply much the better because you took me far beyond just the land, invested me in the spiritual, and deeply intrigued me with Navajo myth, tradition, and mystery.

A week ago, I captured this HDR image of Ship Rock, knowing then it was very simply one of my better efforts. After Hillerman's recent passing, I found a deep, compelling need to complete the image, whose stories so helped invest me in our gorgeous Four Corner myths and legends.

I dedicate this gorgeous Ship Rock image to you!
"I need only drive west from Shiprock into that great emptiness to feel my spirit lift." Tony, I truly understand…
I suspect your spirit may have joined that of other Navajo spirits atop Ship Rock... may you continue in hozhó. May you walk in peace, harmony, and beauty… !

Oct 20, 2008

Ship Rock

Ship Rock Four Corners New Mexico

Places that really strike me have features in common. Harsh powerful grandeur, graduations of colors, tortured eroded shapes…
All are empty and lonely. They invoke a sense of both space and strangeness. All have a fierce inhospitality, an infinite variety of desolate beauty…

Man is not himself only, but a changing pattern of immediate experiences. He has all he sees; all that flows to him from a thousand sources; half noted, or noted not at all except by some sense that lies too deep to name. He is the land, the lift of its mountain lines, the reach of its dusty, dry valleys, the subtle delicacy of its pastel evening colors. If there is in this country of his abiding, no more than a single resplendent color, such as the splendid wine of sunsets built along Ship Rock, he takes it in and gives it forth again in directions and occasions least suspected by himself, as a manner, as music, as his wind song, as a prevailing tone of thought, as the line of his camera’s eye, and, finally, the pattern of his personal growth.

This sense, always at work in Man, takes up and turns into beauty the stuff of his sensory contacts. It works so deeply in him its only notice of perpetual activity is a profound contentment in the presence of the thing it most works upon.

By land, I mean all those things common to a given region: flow of prevailing winds; legends of ancient life; and the scene ~ above everything a magnificently shaped and colored scene. Operating subtly below all other types of adjusted experience, these are things most quickly and surely passed from generation to generation, marked in the face of all daunting or neglectful things a land can do to its human inhabitants, by that piece of inward content, the index of race beginning.

By ancient life, I mean both planetary origin and life lived on the land. Ship Rock was formed as the throat to an ancient volcano 30 million years ago. A volcanic ray - thirty or forty feet high but only about three feet thick - wanders like the Great Wall of China southward from Ship Rock. Molten magma squeezed up through the cracked earth. Up the wall to the north, the core of old Ship Rock volcano rose a thousand feet against the sky, like a free-form version of a Gothic cathedral. Gothic, too, was the color — the stone reflecting soft sunset umbers. Balanced on the wind just over the wall, a red-tailed hawk hunted a rodent to kill. A million years of frost and heat cracked this dike as chunks have fallen out.

Before that, from 700 AD to ~ 1300 AD, the Anasazi lived all over this land. Their time honored legacy of remarkable stone dwellings is legendary!

I would want Ship Rock to look exactly like this. The Navajo call it Tse’ bit’ a’i – Rock with Wings. What about deeds done by Monster Slayer here in the time of Navajo myth? Monster Slayer, climbing the vertical stone of Ship Rock toward the nest of the Winged Monsters to kill them and make this landscape safe for the Navajos. Monster Slayer, at the nest, taught the Monsters' chicks to become the eagle and the owl. Monster Slayer rescued from his impossible perch by the sacred Spider Woman.

On a day I most like to remember, gusting wind pressed me against the dike’s west wall. This wind was advance guard of a front sweeping eastward out of Arizona and Utah. It bombarded Ship Rock with long tendrils of cirrus clouds against blue sky, sending dust devils skittering across the prairie. Ship Rock, the dike, and sunset's pastel hues provide a truly evocative memory of the West.

It’s been such a deep pleasure to read Hillerman and traverse his Beloved Land! Adapted from Tony Hillerman’s consistent influence on the Southwest; his Spell of New Mexico is well known for its portrayal of New Mexico’s contribution to the Four Corners. Mary Austin, cited in Spell, wrote a provocative piece on man which gave me much pause for thought.

Oct 14, 2008

Taking Stock…

Well, our exciting 2008 Kodak International Balloon Fiesta is done; some 970 14-bit raw images resulted.

2008 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Haunted House Pano

One of the highlights was shooting the Haunted House at sunup when sharp colors reigned!

Sounds like an easy go; but, there's some work to be done between capturing the raw image and writing a blog workflow documentary.
We go through each image, delete out-of-focus or bad compositions, insert key words, pick our competition and special shape images for panoramas, create the panoramas, and, finally, end up with our Picks and keepers.
Sound like a handful? After four years of digital photography, where I ignored such seeming trivia, experience taught me _Do It Now_. I'm tired of looking for the same image out of many thousands and not being able to quickly find it.
Lightroom's Library module is skillfully designed to quickly facilitate going from an initial raw image, sharpening, adding contrast, and camera profile as development presets , putting in the copyright, and adding first-order keywords during import. In short – get your images into colorful DNG format, then begin to search for those images your client wants, images you'd submit for competition, and exotic special shape panoramas.

When all was said and done, 970 images became 825. Some of those results were Photoshop PSD panoramic files. I built collection sets for several categories, consolidated all Picks into 80 images, and came up with 17 Keepers. I use Flags and Collection Sets to discreetly work my way through images, throwing away out of focus and bad compositions immediately (hitting the X key), then carefully choosing between two similar shots in picking the best one (hitting the P key), then finally began the consolidation process using Quick Collections. If I've chosen either P or X in error, U undos that temporary choice.
To find keepers, I went through all Picks, and for each one I liked, I hit the B key to place it in Quick Collections, before renaming that quick collection to the Keeper Collection Set.
Keyboard shortcuts are an workflow important element; perhaps we'll deal with them another time...

Dawn lift-off of special shapes is an exciting aspect of Balloon Fiesta. I found a way to stand slightly above the crowd, did a handheld 3 shot pano pivoting around the nodal point of the lens, imported and identified the three raw shots as DNG's in Lightroom, then submitted them to Photoshop CS3 to make a pano. When the pano came back into Lightroom, I used the Angle tool in the Crop function (Develop module) ~ Voilà, you've got a Haunted House pano.
Timewise - import took 20%, pick 75%, in CS3 pano time 5% f- or our delightful Lightroom romp to this blog. Images, catalog, and previews required 12 GB of space. Now, if I'll just go back and keyword some prior 13,000 images, one bite at a time, I'll be caught up...

BTW ~ with several weeks ahead shooting natural wilderness landscape and Anasazi ruin images at dawn and dusk, honing my skills on this workflow will definitely provide more time for my shooting than dull processing. Isn't that the real deal for any avid digital shooter?

Oct 11, 2008

Fired Up Too Chase Crewing

A week of chase crew activity at the 2008 Kodak International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque garnered some really neat action shots.  From before dawn till after dark, for the chase crew, highlight events are characterized by competitions and glowdeos.  In between, you get to photograph and take part in other exciting fiesta activities.

For me, one afternoon's Glowdeo became quite a highlight...

Just clouds setting over the Sandia's marked a wonderful evening.  The balloon was laid out, the fan is working hard, and soon, Fired Up Too will begin to stand proud.

2008 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Laying Down
These Connecticut gals are volunteers helping us put up the balloon.  One of them was an amateur photographer who really liked David's G3 iPhone display of remarkable nature posters.

2008 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Glowdeo fan
With faint changes of sunset reflecting off the clouds, the crew has stabilized #254 as onlookers watch.

2008 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Glowdeo Up
As you can see, Fired Up Too is standing; some balloons have yet to be inflated for balloon glow.

2008 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Glowdeo Lit
But we're clearly not all here just for balloon glow!  Our pilot, Michael Marx and his wife Becky of Dallas, have been avidly competing for several years.  He either tosses a flag at a target or catches a ring from pole (they had a Honda Pilot as a prize in one competition).  In either case, it's no mean task; between all the balloons and often conflicting winds, it can be quite a potentially dangerous chore.

2008 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Competition
Our balloon competition image was shot as Michael and Becky came in on the last calm morning before a weekend storm arrived.

As for me, this is my first chase group experience.  With early morning and late evening hours, I was allowed to come on the field for each event, passing through the Northgate as chase crew.  Besides walking nearly 40 miles in 10 days, I'd lifted and prodded balloons, watched events, and just generally wore myself out...

I'd like to thank Michael Marx, Becky Marx, David Lyons, Leo Ruiz, Roxy Ruiz, Alan Baldridge, and Wanda Baldridge for their fine Texas companionship (oops, one of them is from Tennessee) during this spectacular photographic event!

David and I will be shootin’ in the Four Corners for the next few weeks…

BTW, all images in this particular blog used the DNG conversion with presets from the last blog.  They were simply saved to JPEG files for rapid blog presentation. 

Oct 10, 2008

2008 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Glowdeo and Lightroom 2 Presets

2008 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Glowdeo

Kodak's International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque presents the professional photographer with interesting problems.  You're on the chase crew; you've got balloon competitions and glowdeo (all balloons light up at night) camera time as well.  So, how do you process some 500 raw images a day in the middle of all this chaos?

Enter Lightroom; injest your images, back up, prepare them with presets, pick your keepers, then use a few brush changes, save your file (s), and you're ready to quickly prepare your blog.  But first... let's talk about chase crew duties.

When you're on a chase crew, you're on the balloon field by 5:45 a.m.  You set up the balloon; as soon as it lifts off, you shoot all balloons nearby, then jump in the truck to go find them and reload the balloon - after a late breakfast, it's time to process images and catch a quick nap.

Glowdeo is the Fiesta’s 'Really Big Show!'  After importing morning images, you go back on the field at 6 p.m., set up the balloon for the evening show, then when burners start firing, go off and shoot more images.  When glowdeo is over, you repack the balloon about 9 p.m.  Once again, process recent images before falling asleep.  After all, you got to leave for morning at 5:30 a.m. ... imagine a week of chasin'!

Oops, you're always playing catch up to get cards downloaded, images imported with presets, copyright, and back up to just be ready to shoot that next exciting balloon event.  Let's show some Develop Settings tricks during raw image import in Lightroom which cut down on workflow.  What if you could see a glowdeo image needing only a little touch up to make a positive impact on your audience.  Let's talk about how to do that...

DSLR cameras are designed to produce raw files without sharpening.  They usually look flat and pale.  Adobe has just released beta versions of camera profiles with 'true' color for leading DSLR's.  If you combine both camera color and landscape sharpen presets in Develop mode, working DNG files (Adobe’s Digital Negative) will look closer to your final touch up.  That's a considerable time saving based on two features; you don't have to sharpen or get colors right for your particular camera.  Lightroom can do this job automatically. 

Our workflow makes a preliminary file which looks like a JPEG - but has other distinct advantages.  On import, Lightroom provides inclusion of EXIF and copyright metadata, as well as keywords on import.  You see a sharp, real color on first examining images to pick keepers.  You shoot and save 14 bit images for enhanced shadows and highlights.  You also reduce file size perhaps 10% with raw file included in the DNG.

2008 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Glowdeo raw

Here’s the raw image from our shoot.

For our 'keeper' (top), in addition to sharpness and camera profile presets, we enhanced Exposure, Blacks, Clarity, and Vibrance a bit in the Basic tab.  At 1:1, noise was dominant in the sky.  In the Detail tab, increasing Luminance to 92 reduced noise.  At blog scale, you can't see these changes; at 1:1, they're really quite apparent.

In toto; early preparation of imported images provides appetizing colors, sharpness, and keywords to find and quickly aid ‘keeper’ decisions.  Final work up is speedier; you can work through individual bunches of images while Lightroom imports ahead of your choosing keepers.

Now, if it were as easy to write a cogent blog…
Isn't moonrise a nice touch?

Oct 3, 2008

Tit (Tips) for TAT...

Sandia Sunset

Sandia Sunset
© Joe Bridwell
Several years ago, I shot a Sandia sunset as a point-and-shoot JPEG. Highlights seem blown out; the blue sky is pale.  As software capabilities progress, it often pays to revisit such shots.  Let’s see how the Target Adjustment tool (TAT) from Lightroom 2 can enhance clouds.

With advent of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 and CS4, there's been lots of hype in the online video tutorials world about local, nondestructive gradient filter and adjustment brush tools.  For landscape digital photographers who love Magic Hour, this translates to the gradient tool and adjustment brush which can create truly spectacular sunrises and sunsets.  So, you might ask, "Did Adobe hide any other really neat tools somewhere?"

Yes, they did; it's called the Targeted Adjustment tool.  Or, as Scott Kelby says, "TAT, for short."  The TAT is that little round target-looking icon on the top-left corner of the Tone Curve panel in the Develop module.  It looks like the TAT portion of this image.  When you move your cursor over it, two triangles are added to the cursor cross - pointing up and down.  The cross samples the image portion; the triangles modify the Tone Curve.

When you click on that little target icon, your cursor changes to the cursor seen here.  This remarkable tool lets you interactively adjust the Tone Curve by clicking-and-dragging it right within your photo.  The crosshair is actually where the tool's change is located - the target with triangles is there just to remind you which way to drag the tool.  This chosen point is also reflected in the Tone Curve itself as a circle.

TAT tool Lightroom 2

TAT really strengthens your ability to make subtle Tone Curve adjustments.  When you look at the tone curve, you'll see two things:
1.    A point on the curve were the tones you're hovering over are located.
2.    The name of the area you're adjusting appears at the graph bottom.

For example, consider a shot where captured clouds have little emphasis.  To darken these clouds, just click on them with TAT and drag straight downward.  Or, if clouds are dark, drag straight upward to lighten.  You might say, "This is a super neat way of adjusting contrast!  Thanks, Adobe (and Joe)..."

But that's not all... scroll on down to the HSL panel in the Develop module.  Once again, you'll see the TAT tool.  Here, TAT adjusts Color, instead of Contrast.  Dragged upward to increase or downward to decrease saturation.

Several years ago, I shot a gorgeous sunset over the Sandia's as a point-and-shoot JPEG.  In intense light orange regions, while highlights were not blown out, I used Tone Curve’s TAT to reduce those regions to a more apt color.
With all deeply rich color in the clouds, the blue sky was slightly under saturated.  A second application of HSL’s Luminance TAT is to darken just the blue sky.

Tips (Tit) for TAT... now you can easily add or subtract drama and/or passion from remarkably photogenic sunsets which truly complement regal landscapes!

Dramatic Sandia Sunset w TAT

Sep 29, 2008

Kelby’s Exciting Lightroom 2 Workflow Book…

Scott Kelby's Lightroom 2 Book

New Adobe software tends to come out without supporting learning tools. Select individuals, operating under nondisclosure agreements (NDA), have beta software access. With a proven track record for writing books or doing videos, they try to time production of learning tools near the software release date. Several times now, I've had software with untimely reading or video tools to learn about it later.

So when Scott Kelby's Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 book for digital photographers finally arrived, I was very eager to dive into it. Saturday afternoon about three, FedEx pulled up ~ by 10 o'clock Sunday evening I pretty much had a good idea of some of Kelby's in-depth tricks for using Lightroom 2. As owner of Adobe Photoshop CS3 and a newbie at Lightroom 2, I also have the outstanding Bruce Fraser Real World series on CS3 and Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). Kelby's new book was like icing on the cake! I suspect my quick assimilation of Kelby benefited by learning from Fraser. BTW, each book is available in the Brain Food section of this blog…

Neat Tips

With a sound basis in CS3 and ACR, I'm quite pleased with what can be done with the new, local brush tools in LR2. In his clear fashion, Kelby gives a blow-by-blow review for neat LR2 tricks. I particularly like the following workflow in the Library module:
1. Importing - getting photos into Photoshop Lightroom 2 p. 1.
2. Sorting photos using Collections p. 42.
3. Organizing multiple shoots using Collection Sets p. 54.
4. Make finding photos easier by adding specific Keywords p. 60.
5. Moving photos and how to use Folders p. 82.
6. From laptop to desktop: Syncing catalogs on two computers p. 92.

Then there's the fascinating Develop module:
1. Setting White Balance p. 130.
2. How to set overall Exposure p. 135.
3. Adding "punch" to your images using Clarity p. 141.
4. Using Tone Curve to add contrast p. 143.
5. Virtual Copies - the "no risk" way to experiment p. 154.

LR2 really shines at Local Adjustments with new Develop brush tools:
1. Dodging, Burning, and Adjusting individual areas of your photo p. 170.
2. Fixing skies (and other stuff) with Gradient Filter p. 182.
3. Removing dust spots p. 199.
4. Fixing backlit photos (using Fill Light) p. 205.
5. Sharpening photos and Lightroom p. 207.
6. Using Camera Profiles to match the look of the LCD image p. 213.
7. Travel Workflow ~ my step-by-step travel photography process p. 399.

Mind you, these are just my present highlights! I'm sure you'd find a different series according to your knowledge and needs. To quote MacArthur, "I shall return..."

While watching LR2 videos, I've seen Kelby say his workflow is now 75 LR2 and 25 CS3. Jeff Schewe, Fraser's sidekick, indicates 90 LR2 - 10 CS3. Looks like there's a tidal shift in pro workflow...

I think the real strengths of LR2 simplify to handling all photos in a catalog, making local, nondestructive adjustments, a very smooth transition to additional requirements if you need to use CS3, and a marked workflow speed up.

Shortcut Tables Missing...

Jumping into LR2, you find it's a real slow go using the cursor to switch in and out of various panels. Kelby handles this for each instance of digital development by including specific shortcuts in each step as he explains how to do development.

Unfortunately, Kelby left several significant elements sadly lacking. One index entry suggest a shortcut icon at 227-228. I would expect to see an extended list of all shortcuts for each of five LR2 modules Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print, and Web ~ but they are nonexistent. I think this is a rather serious, if not fundamental oversight; it forces the reader to laboriously annotate each book page to remember the complex keystroke sequence. The reader would prefer a well prepared index, a combined shortcut page, memorizing it, and moving on rather rapidly.

Nevertheless, Kelby's LR2 book is a provocative way to definitively aid digital photographers in speeding up their workflow.

My Thanks to David Lyons,, for many discussions on these points…

Sep 26, 2008

"Pay Me Now, or Pay Me Later..."

Lightroom 2 Library Module Catalogs Folders Collections

You might say, "What's Michael Phelps got to do with Lightroom 2?"

Pay Me Now…

It's wrapped up in the pay me now side of this equation... Michael went to Beijing with lots of training under his belt. If you don't believe so, just look at those awesome abs!

Have you trained for digital photography’s terrible gigabyte data onslaught?
What's a gigabyte onslaught?
It's those thousands of images you get to look through to decide which ones you need to work on to create award-winning images or quickly pick out images for your client. It's also the gigabytes and eventually terabytes of external, off-line hard drive space which have a pristine backup of your original image. And, it never ends as long as you want to take pictures...

As long as you've got enough CF cards and backup capabilities, you can wander around anywhere and take digital pictures to your hearts content for as long as you like. That's what I did for four years, from point-and-shoot to prosumer DSLR as I grew into digital photography. Unfortunately, early software and my laziness contributed to a pay me later attitude.

With advent of Lightroom 2, Adobe has a slick way of importing images, adding site-specific metadata, adding keywords, and reviewing to see which images are important.

Pay Me Later…

A newbie to this due diligence workflow process, I had some 21,000 images. At a minimum, they needed copyright and site-specific metadata. At the max - quickly find all time favorites. I needed to be able to easily and quickly view them to roughcut the goobers (Texan for get rid of the crap).

It's a mind boggling process.
I can only sit hunched in one position so many hours a day staring at a calibrated screen, doing visual compares between lousy, good, better, and best as well as adding preliminary keywords. Fond of bracketed HDR panoramas, some of this job was exceedingly repetitious. Slowly learning what not to shoot, much early work wouldn't fit the exacting criteria for award-winning photography.

The first job was to import a folder full of raw images with basic copyright metadata. I had pre-grouped folders containing thousands of images into years. With 138 GB of images, I started in a folder for 2004. Many of these landscape images are New Mexico; so I used a keyword format nm_place. The nm_ format could apply to any state in the Four Corners area of the Southwestern United States (co_, ut_, az_ …). As they appeared, I would coin other key word formats for specifics. At the least, this was only a preliminary cut.

I found five hours a day was about all the concentrated attention I could give such as mind-sapping project. Yet, doggedly, I continued for seven days - finally paring down the image count from 21,000 to 13,000. And... Phase 1 was done

Then, thanks to the bright software designers at Adobe, I discovered I still had some 3300 images without keywords and cleaned up that problem. Never fear; although you can't directly delete images when you're looking at Without Keyword in Collections, LR2 lets you perform a Show Folder, which opens the specific folder where the individual images occur. Reopen your external hard drive (My Book E), open this folder, and go through the delete process.

Lightroom 2 Library Catalog lrcat and lrdata

Here's the Windows XP folder structure for my main Lightroom 2 catalog (Lightroom 2 catalog.lrcat and preview folder Lightroom 2 catalog previews.lrdata) when this taxing job was done... 13,000 images take 4.2 GB of space where's a catalog takes 0.13 gigabytes.

Fortunately, LR2 is very good at letting me look at each image in Loupe space, with an adjacent keyword panel open for metadata creation. If I didn't like an image, simply hit X and it would be rejected. At the end of any particular folder, Ctrl-Backspace would allow me to delete the rejected images. If I saw a whole sequence I didn't like, I could choose Delete Photos and throw them away. Or, I could choose Shift X and walk through a sequence before using Ctrl-Backspace. It helps to keep Filmstrip View open - you can see what you're rejected.

The really nice thing about Lightroom 2 is the transportable catalog; in one place on your main drive, you compile previews, metadata, keywords, and other aspects of your digital photography. This catalog can be transferred to your laptop or vice versa. Because it compiles previews in a database, you can actually look at a picture while you add metadata although external hard drives which created that picture are either off-line or a studio. If you've been on a long shoot, just take the revised catalog from your laptop and put it on your desktop. Then, either update with new image information or catalog revisions from your daily grind.

In other words, get a lot of your work done on your laptop during the day, then shoot that next exciting batch of award winners at dawn and dusk.

Hey, did you forget about Michael?
Michael is the most highly awarded gold medalist ever to attend Olympics. He got there because he was determined, trained hard, performed well, and won.

May I suggest you do the same with digital photography workflow! Use Lightroom 2, import your images and create a copyright. This copyright will carry forward to all subsequent images. Sort them later and add distinctive keywords.
That way, when you get home, with your deliberate workflow steps, you can quickly rank and pick winners for further work, with brilliant new adjustment tools from Lightroom 2. Or, when available in the next month or so, the panoply of additional digital development features in Adobe Photoshop CS4.

Train yourself, enjoy a dutiful workflow, and you too, can have award-winning images and happy clients!

Sep 5, 2008

Ojito Passion

Ojito Passion Cabezon Peak New Mexico

Cabezon Peak from the Ojito
©2008, Chopawamsic LC
The Ojito wilderness is about an hour northwest of Albuquerque.  Rocky mesas and clay bottoms stretch before the eye.  One might not realize dinosaurs once roamed this very ancient Jurassic land.  The longest dinosaur on the planet, Sam the Seismosaurus, was found in the Ojito.  Cabezon Peak is a volcanic neck northwest of the Ojito – a regional landmark for the southeastern San Juan Basin.  A thousand years ago, the Anasazi also roamed the Ojito.  We present a rainy day passion play of Cabezon from Ojito…

Time's passion play strikes different chords in each of us...
Once upon a time, Sam, the Seismosaurus, the longest dinosaur ever found on our planet, wandered around the Ojito during the Jurassic 140 million years ago when dinosaur's reigned supreme and our continent was in another position.  The dinosaur quarry, out on a lonely point with some marvelous petroglyphs, is all that's left of Sam's ancient remnants; he is on display at New Mexico’s Museum of Natural History on the second floor.  From head to tip of tail, Sam's bones literally fill the exhibition room at the Museum.
Day before yesterday, several mere mortals in four-wheel-drive vehicles went to the Ojito in a seemingly chilling, yet slight rain.  Two of those brave souls crept out, sliding around on gumbo clay, like their vehicles just before, taking Ojito shots in the mist.
While the clay was just beginning to moisten and stick to my shoes, I shielded the camera in a rain jacket - except for an occasional handheld snapshot.  Wandering around, I kept cloud shrouded Cabezon Peak in the background.  In the foreground, partially obscured by a misty rain, a ridge of rock dipped toward me.  Capped by juniper shrubs, clay on top captured rock shards between two beckoning red ridges. 
As blah as our day was, there was still potential for passion.  Dave Cross, on July 16, 2008, wrote a guest blog for Scott Kelby; basically, Dave said, "When you're out shooting, bear in mind what you can do with Photoshop..."! I thought, "What happens if I apply the same philosophy - shooting for Lightroom?"
After a little work in Lightroom 2, Ojito Passion began to cast its light in digital land.  Beginning with each raw file, metadata and copyright information were encapsulated during the import phase. 
Two fascinating new tools, graduated filter and adjustment brush, literally changed the face of my Ojito experience.  I tilted a graduated filter to both add passion and help emphasize the ridge and red clay lines.  Switching to the adjustment brush, I applied both clarity and sharpening as separate, localized brush steps.  Then, I cropped the image at the base for balance.
Oops, almost forgot; I felt like Cabezon could speak for itself – walk softly, yet carry a big stick!  Was this how an ancient land looked back in Anasazi time?
The image above provides you a final interpretation. 
Lightroom 2 functions very much like Adobe Camera Raw and Bridge.  It's simply got those delicious new tools, adjustment brush and graduated filter.  Just choose the right tool, apply it, and 'twiddle' the sliders until you have the image you want.  After learning the initial workflow, LR 2 is a fast, very intuitive image processor.  Local sharpening enhancement with new brushes in Lightroom doesn't seem to require as much time or effort as former work in Pixel Genius Photokit Sharpener. These changes are nondestructive. 
LR2 also has a Before and After button which quickly shows you progress as you compare steps to see development.  The width of this blog would make a before and after shot rather small, so click here to pull up an independent B&A JPEG.
And, LR2's faster than the old Bridge - ACR combo... part of Adobe’s intuitive GUI.

Sep 3, 2008

Odds and Ends

What, you didn't put up a picture - why is that?
Several reasons; First, I want to call attention to an error in the blog a few days ago. I got one of the Internet hooks wrong about videos on Lightroom 2. Here's the correction

Click on Julieanne Kost's What's New in Lightroom?
Pt 1 - Library Module
Pt 2 - Develop Module
Pt 3 - Exporting, Photoshop, and Output
Each video is 20-30 minutes long - she is a terrific LR2 teacher.

Second, each of us was fascinated with the historical moments created by Michael Phelps at the Beijing Olympics. I, for one, immensely enjoyed Vincent Laforet’s New York Times blog reporting as a professional photographer. In my blogroll about photographers, Vincent posted a change of blog address; when I read through the new blog, I discovered an article about how many gigabytes and images his Beijing photography consumed.
Would you believe 6 cameras, over 28,000 images, and  480 Gigabytes of space?
He used Aperture to process images, I use Lightroom 2. Both reduce the workload significantly.
You can read all about it here.

Third, and today is a day to go shoot near where the longest dinosaur was ever found on our planet ~ Sam the Seismosaurus. Really, we're actually planning to go shoot Ojito hoodoos. Now, how do you pronounce Ojito?

Sep 1, 2008

Is Lightroom 2 an iPhone on Steroids?

iPhone Satelite view

Sound like an Apple/Adobe commercial?
... not really. It's the simple, truth about amazing versatility of Lightroom 2...

It's a series of comments as part of training videos from National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP), Scott Kelby and Matt Kloskowski. Between Kelby's new Lightroom 2 book and Kloskowski's new Lightroom 2 In-Depth DVD, these guys are teaching Lightroom to photographers. That particular video is their last item titled Lightroom versus Photoshop discussion on NAPP’s new Lightroom 2 Learning Center.
But they make another huge point... a comparison between Bridge and Lightroom 2. At time spent on a personal workflow level, you might use Bridge, because it came with Photoshop CS3, after you come back from an on location shoot. On the other hand, you use Lightroom to manage years of portfolio images for quick access.
While professional photographers may shoot several hundred images a day, some photographers have thousands of images without metadata, copyright, or keyword search parameters which need proper organization. These K guys are constantly shooting and constantly teaching. Takes a lot of time to put forth a tutorial about any element of Adobe’s Digital photography package. They've a startling consensus; with Lightroom 2 as the principal all-around image processing vehicle, 75% of their shooting/teaching workflow time is now spent in Lightroom.
Once a week, NAPP produces videos for Photoshop User Magazine; several recent videos have tutored about Lightroom. You can download each video between Tuesday and Monday weekly here.
With only a month since Lightroom 2's release, NAPP and Adobe are producing both in-depth and free videos. I enjoyed Julieanne Kost, Adobe Digital Imaging Evangelist, explaining details of workflow processing in her tutorials and Adobe videos. Every once in a while, I'd stop her video just to see if I could do that particularly intricate workflow sequence in Lightroom. As you might expect, free videos (Adobe, NAPP) are teasers whereas in-depth videos sometimes require copious funds.

Update: My apologies - I got the Adobe Videos hook wrong. Here's the correction:
Click on Julieanne Kost's What's New in Lightroom? And Choose...
Pt 1 - Library Module
Pt 2 - Develop Module
Pt 3 - Exporting, Photoshop, and Output
Each video is 20-30 minutes long - she is a terrific LR2 teacher.
Do You have Comcast?

If you can save significant time, process all your new shoots, and make sure your entire portfolio is easily searchable, then perhaps you might want to upgrade to Lightroom 2... it's spectacular new gradient and adjustment tools will have a fantastic effect on your most dramatic images.

Aug 27, 2008

Lightroom 2 - Adobe's new USS Enterprise

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2

Its been 42 years since Star Trek briefly blazoned across our Universe... DSLR cameras didn't even exist... Darth Vader has come and gone!
The latest buzz began a month ago; Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 was unveiled. The digital photographer's blogosphere went ballistic...
My first exposure to Lightroom 2 was a couple of videos showing new Adjustment and Graduated Filter tools - I watched in amazement as the new adjustment brush delicately enhanced body, wings, and tail of two completely different airplane images - all without requiring that exhausting quick selection/quick mask Photoshop solution to masking.
I sensed, "A Revolution in Our Midst... !" Did some Adobe wag deliberately choose a warped space-time continuum as an icon for the box cover?
Maybe not; but I think Lightroom 2 will warp how we do digital photography to a completely new way of faster, more sophisticated workflow.

It's possible to have LR2 in hand before you have a book or video to learn from. The National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP) is already producing video tutorials. Amazon will have Scott Kelby's book available September 21. Matt Kloskowski has in-depth videos on DVD through NAPP. Adobe TV shows a teaser LR2 series from Kloskowski; 8 to 10 minute overviews. Michael Clark, of Santa Fe New Mexico, has written an e-book explaining his use of LR2; it's been picked up as a source by Adobe. And each blogosphere rant gives us various other glimpses as this is written.
So what can I say that's new about LR2?
About a year ago, with my head pressed firmly into the wall of an ancient, remote Anasazi ruin, I did a handheld row-and-column multi-shot panorama. I came back to the mothership, tried to stitch it in CS2, and the stitching was a real mess. The next morning Jack Houser tried to stitch it in CS3 - it worked. Acting on gut instinct, I downloaded CS3. It's stitching was perfect - the image would later get Honorable Mention at the State Fair.
In the interim, CS3's Quick Selection tool and Quick Mask has slowly helped create several masked alpha channel versions of composite images which have recently won local awards and made it just below the final awards cut at the latest state fair. Privately, I was told by a highly decorated award-winning photographer who watched that judging ~ "You were robbed...!"

Conceptually, with what little I presently know about LR2, again my gut anticipates it will significantly enhance many aspects of professional photography digital workflow. If my new mothership tool can make archaic or even eliminate quick selection, quick masking, dodge and burn - just that response alone will clearly give me more time to shoot instead of compute. And, as my experience has gone with Photoshop, there will be amazing new little tips and tricks trickle out of LR2 for some time to come.

While Star Trek only lasted three years, The Next Generation has been with us for some time. May LR2 ~ Live Long and Prosper!