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Video Tutorial: Create Printer Profiles for Use in Lightroom and Photoshop

I recently got a chance to try out X-Rite’s Colormunki Photo device. This allows you to not only profile your monitor (and projector), but also to create printer / paper profiles. What I particularly like about it is that it is very easy to use, and the process has very few steps. The Colormunki Photo runs about $450 on the street — compared to $170 for the Colormunki Display, which does monitor and projector profiling only. This is a significant price premium to be able to make printer profiles, but it is less than many other devices on the market. Note that in moving to the Photo from the Display, you do lose two monitor profiling features — Ambient Light [...more]

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Ten Reasons Why Lightroom Users May Want to Buy Photoshop

Update 11/20/2013: Read my updated article, on reasons to subscribe to Photoshop CC. Photoshop CS6 started shipping yesterday, so I anticipate that a lot of photographers not currently using Photoshop are wondering if they should consider it.  I am assuming for the sake of this article that you are already using Lightroom.  (If not, you may want to read this post, which talks about why I think pro’s as well as amateurs who really care about their photography should.) The question here is, do you need Photoshop too? There is certainly much that you can do in Photoshop that you can’t do in Lightroom.  The key questions are, do you need or want to do enough of those things to [...more]

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To DNG or Not to DNG

In Lightroom’s Import dialog (and in the Library module), you are given the choice to convert your camera manufacturer-proprietary raw files into Adobe’s raw file format, DNG.   I have gone back and forth on recommending conversion to my students, and in my own workflow  — not because I don’t trust Adobe’s conversion, but because I just have never seen it as mission-critical.  While I could see some advantages, they just haven’t been that compelling to me, and converting to DNG does make the Import process take a lot longer.  (At this point I do convert, but I don’t feel strongly about it.) Though still not mission-critical, Lightroom 4 is introducing some new advantages, to make Lightroom performance faster with [...more]

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Jpeg Compression and the Lightroom Jpeg Quality Setting

Anytime you create a jpeg using Lightroom’s Export dialog (or any other method), the file is compressed — information is thrown away in order to make the file smaller. How much is determined by the Quality setting or, in Lightroom 3 or later, if you choose instead, the Limit File Size setting. The big benefit of jpeg files is that they are relatively small.  The jpeg save algorithm is complicated, but it basically evaluates each pixel in your image, looking at pixels surrounding it to see if they are “close enough” in color and tone. If they are “close enough”, then they are changed to be  the same. This way the file doesn’t need to store as many pieces of [...more]

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What Is the Tone Curve in Lightroom (And Camera Raw and Photoshop)?

The tone curve is not the most intuitive feature of Lightroom or Photoshop.  In this tutorial I will explain how to read the curve, and then how to use the basic version of it in Lightroom and Camera Raw.   Note that this is a rewrite of an old post.  If you are a Photoshop user, you will want to read the old one  (but keep in mind that the Lightroom information is out-of-date there.). The tone curve is used to brighten or darken tones in your image.  For general image brightening and darkening, I usually start with Exposure in the Basics panel to set how bright the brightest tones in the image should be, and then I move to the Brightness slider [...more]

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What Lurks in the Shadows: The Case of the Black Cat, or Why You Should Expose to the Right

I wrote this post in early 2009, so I am sure that many of my readers haven’t seen it.  I decided to repost it because it is an important concept for digital photographers to understand. As you may have heard, with digital, unlike film, your goal should be to expose your image as brightly as possible, without blowing out important highlights.  In other words, your histogram should be as far to the right as possible without going over the edge.  This method is now called ETTR — Expose To The Right. What is the histogram?  It is a graph of the tones in your images, from pure black (blocked up, no detail) at the left edge, to pure white (blown [...more]

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8 bit, 12 bit, 14 bit, 16 bit — What Does It Really Mean to Digital Photographers?

You may be photographing  in raw rather than jpeg because you know that raw files contain more information and because they are unprocessed, giving you more flexibility.  But how do they contain more information?  Among other things, digital photography raw files are captured at a higher bit depth — depending on the camera, 12, 14 or 16 bit, compared to 8 bit for jpegs.   Whether 12, 14 or 16, these higher bit-depth files potentially contain much more information than 8 bit files. So what is bit depth? For each pixel in your image, the tonal value or brightness of the scene you are photographing  is stored in the image file on your memory card, along with the color.   Computer [...more]

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What You See Is Not What You Get? Time to Learn to Calibrate Your Monitor

When you print images  yourself or send them out to a printing service, do your prints look like what you see on your monitor?  If not, there may be many reasons for this, but the first to consider is that your monitor is very possibly  off in terms of color, brightness and contrast.   If, for example, your monitor is too bright, then your prints will come out darker than you expect.  If your monitor is too blue, your prints will look too yellow (the opposite of blue).    The solution is to calibrate and profile your monitor on a regular basis, using what is called a colorimeter.  I recommend the Eye One Display 2, though I am sure there are other [...more]

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The Perfect Exposure, or When Good Things Don’t Look So Good, or Why You Should Expose to the Right

I wrote about the importance of exposing as brightly as possible, short of blowing out important highlights in my post “What Lurks in the Shadows: The Case of the Black Cat“.    I encourage you to read it if you haven’t. I thought I would show you an example of a perfect exposure that in fact looks terrible in-camera. Here is a photograph I took on the Oregon Coast: And here is the histogram:

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I have Lightroom. Do I need Photoshop?

I have been meaning to write a post on this topic.  However, I noticed today that my colleague Gene McCullagh has just written about this over on his blog, Lightroom Secrets.   I agree with Gene that Lightroom will serve most photographers needs most  of the time (and some photographers, all the time).   My advice to serious amateurs and pro’s is to learn Lightroom very well, and only then,  if you find you need more sophisticated pixel-editing tools, consider Photoshop (or even PS Elements) for just those advanced needs. I believe that today, with Lightroom so well established and powerful, educational programs that start photographers out in Photoshop rather than Lightroom are doing them a real disservice.  I hope that programs [...more]

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