Laura Shoe

Nov 122008

I’ll be out of town for the rest of the week teaching a Lightroom 2 workshop in Eugene, Oregon. Please check back on Monday for my next post. Remember, if there is a topic or question you would like me to address, click on “Submit a Question” to the right, and email it to me — I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for dropping by!

Nov 122008

I was creating a web gallery in Lightroom today for a friend, and I wanted it to look as consistent with her website as possible in terms of colors and fonts. The issue I faced was how to determine what the website background color was. Here’s how to do it using Photoshop (UPDATE – click here to learn how you can do this in Lightroom):

  • Open up Photoshop, open any image and make sure you have the background layer highlighted in the layers palette.
  • Resize the Photoshop window so that the web page (or any other document) you want the color from is next to it.
  • Grab the Eyedropper tool (shortcut I), click anywhere in the image, and then drag over onto the web page color you want. As you drag around, you will see that the foreground color in Photoshop’s tool palette changes to reflect the color you are over. Let go when you have sampled the color you want.
  • Click on the foreground color swatch in the tool palette to open the Color Picker dialog. Write down the 6 digit hexadecimal color code (circled below):
Photoshop Color Picker Dialog Box

Photoshop Color Picker Dialog Box

Here is how to use the color in a Lightroom web gallery:

  • In the Web module Color Palette, click on the background color, and when the color dialog box opens, click in the hex box and type the new number in. That’s it!
Changing a Lightroom Web Gallery Color

Changing a Lightroom Web Gallery Color

Once you have your web gallery designed, don’t forget to create a template, so that you can use the design again without having to start over from scratch. More on that in another post.

Nov 092008

When you are working on an image for print, or any application where it will be viewed full size, it is important that you zoom in to 100%, and inspect the entire image for issues that you can’t see when it is smaller. I was working on this image today

Fall Image

Fall Image

and when I zoomed in to 100% I discovered a red and cyan colored fringe around the bird in the image. Here it is zoomed in to 400% so you can really see it: Continue reading »

Nov 062008

From my experience teaching, I know that some folks love shortcuts and others much prefer to use menus. But even if you are in the second group, you will find that learning and using just a handful or so of the most important shortcuts will really speed up your Lightroom experience. I dare say, you will not go back!

G takes you to the Library Grid view

E takes you to the Library Loupe view

D takes you to the Develop Module

Tab hides and reveals your left and right panels

Shift-Tab hides and reveals both the panels and filmstrip

hides and reveals the filter bar at the top.

0-5 assign 0 to 5 stars to your image.

6-9 assign colors to your image.

B assigns the selected image to the Quick Collection

If you are really into shortcuts, in Lightroom go to Help>Library Module Shortcuts to see a list of many more.

Nov 032008

Here’s a nice summary of Photoshop CS4 new and upgraded features that pertain to photographers, from John Nack of Adobe:

There are a couple new very powerful features, and then there are alot of changes that make it easier to get around in Bridge and Photoshop, and easier to do things that you could already do before.

The first new feature is the ability to do local adjustments in Camera Raw using the graduated filter and the adjustment brush. Scott Kelby has a video demo of these at

These were also introduced into Lightroom 2, so if you use Lightroom (and followed my advice from an earlier post to upgrade to Lightroom 2), you already have these features and you aren’t using Camera Raw anymore. If you don’t use Lightroom, then the introduction of the ability to do your dodging and burning, local contrast, saturation and sharpening enhancements right in Camera Raw is a powerful reason to upgrade in itself. Imagine not having to go into Photoshop anymore for many of your images that don’t require sophisticated selections and masks. I consider it a huge efficiency boost. The one word of caution I have on this for you to be prepared for these tools to challenge your machine’s processing power, unless you have upgraded recently. I don’t think this is a reason not to upgrade to CS4, but you will have to be a little patient at times. (And if it is time for a new computer, check out my colleague Dave Marx’s blog, for thoughtful articles and recommendations.)

The second brand new and cool feature is Content Aware Scaling.  Consider those situations where you need to crop your image to different proportions, such as 5×7 or 8×10. But you don’t want to get rid of any of the image, and you also don’t want to squish it, making everyone really thin and tall, or widen it, making your paying customers fat. Assuming that there is negative space in your image, content aware scaling will try to find this negative space (or you can tell it where it is with an alpha channel), and will just shrink that down or expand it, preserving important areas like people at the right proportions. Russell Brown has an excellent video demonstration of this tool that I highly recommend you watch at

If this interests you but would be your only compelling reason for upgrading, I suggest downloading the 30 day trial version and experimenting with the tool. It is good, but it does have its limitations in terms of how smart it is and what situations it is useful for.

Whoops, there is one more cool new feature — it  allows you to automatically combine multiple images shot at varying focus points, to get sharpness throughout the image. So when your depth of field is too shallow, shoot multiple images and use this Blend feature.

Ok, just one more major change — the ability to leverage 64 bit Windows processing. With this you can finally exceed the 4 GB limit that PS has been restricted to working with before. Of course if you don’t have or anticipate buying a new 64 bit machine in the next year, then this isn’t applicable to you.

Otherwise I consider most of the other features as nice to have. They make your day a little easier and the experience more pleasant.

Is it worth the $199? It depends on how dear $199 is to you these days, how much tolerance you have for learning new features, and how you value the new ones introduced.   Unless you use Camera Raw and can take advantage of its local enhancement tools, the decision is not so clear cut as, in my opinion, the decision to upgrade from Lightroom 1 to Lightroom 2.

Nov 022008

Just a quick post for today, with my most used shortcuts. I can’t recommend these enough — they work everywhere, Photoshop, Camera Raw, Lightroom, and in places where other shortcuts don’t necessarily work, like in Photoshop filters.

First, the left bracket key [ and right bracket key ] for decreasing and increasing brush size … paint brush, healing brush, clone stamp, adjustment brush, spot removal tool, eraser, etc, etc.. Don’t waste your time going into brush menus for this! Similarly, shift [ and shift ] control how soft or hard your brush is, in 20% increments.

Second, for zooming in and out on an image, I use Ctl/Cmd + and Ctl/Cmd -. Again, in all of these programs. Holding the space bar down gives you the hand tool so that you can click and drag around in the image to get to the part you want to see. (Hold the space bar down the entire time).

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