Using LR and Windows

Here is a couple of things that I learned about LR, Laptops and Windows 10.

While Microsoft has made photo codecs for every version of Windows from XP on, they apparently no longer make photo Raw codec’s for Windows 10. In their defense Microsoft does have some photo App’s available to download from it’s online “store”, but the latest Raw photo codec will not work on Windows 10.

Laptop touch pads, this may be me, because I don’t use laptops all that often. I just think if your trying to edit in LR or Photoshop, touch pads seem really hard to use. I much rather use an old fashion mouse any day of the week. It’s much easier for me to be precise with the pointer and right click when needed with a plain mouse.

Ran into an issue with LR creative cloud running on a laptop, would not recognize CR2 Raw images and import them. The only time I have seen this is with an older software version trying to import images from a newly released camera body. Not the case here since it was creative cloud licensed, and similar images from the same camera had been imported a couple of weeks earlier.

Two possibilities come to mind, one is the Raw module in LR became corrupt or LR is ok; but the Raw files on the SD card became corrupt. A new SD card with different “good” Raw images would help to determine if it was the Raw images on the first card (possibly the SD card itself). If not something with the first card, I would to try and apply any new updates again or reinstall the LR software.

Tips:

  1. Shift + Tab is an easy way to toggle between seeing the image your editing as large as possible or a smaller image with all the editing tools. This works in Library and Develop modules, but not during imports. This can be handy on a laptop with a smaller screen. You can arrow through to the next image without having to leave Develop and create a slide show.
  2. In Library or Develop mode, the film strip at the bottom will list the folder name. If you are unsure of where this folder is located, from the Library module, go to folders on the left side. Simply right click with your mouse on the folder name. A menu will show up and one of the choices is “Show in Explorer”. If selected, a File Explore window will open and show you where on your PC’s hard drive those images are actually located.
  3. At the top in Tools, the “View” selection has the option to show or hide the tool bar. This isn’t the top tool bar, it’s a bar below the photo that gives you the ability to zoom in and out. Also if you are using the adjustment brush, it gives you the option to “Show Selected Mask Overlay”, which at times is nice to be able to turn off.
  4. If you’re interested in a work flow that has you only importing the keeper’s into LR, so your Catalog size stays reasonable. One way to do that is with Bridge if you happen to have it installed along with Photoshop. Bridge is a great viewer, but it also lets you set ratings.
  5. You can create a collection right in Bridge, with all the photos that you set as three stars for example. Then you can export those three star photos from your Bridge collection by dragging or saving them into a preset “Edit” folder. Next simply open LR, import all the photos from your Bridge Edit folder, and the rating you applied follows each image with the metadata.

 

Travel Setup

So you want to take a bunch of exciting travel photos with your new DSRL camera. Say you are going to be gone for a while and will need to bring a laptop anyway. Can you edit those images in your travel down time before you return?

Why yes you can!  Adobe allows you to install Lightroom (LR) on two devices, with one user license, as long as the same person is using them both. So if you have a copy for your workstation, you can also install the same software and license on your travel laptop.

How should you merge edits done on the road with those you already have at home?  Well there are a couple of ways, one being just use an external USB 3 drive for both your laptop and workstation. Share the same image storage and catalog. I personally like USB 3 drives to augment laptop storage and for use in multiple backups.

But, I don’t like the idea of using a USB 3 drive full time as the primary storage for your images. So while that could be done, it’s not the process that I would recommend. A better approach would be to use a different “travel” catalog on the laptop. When you return home, plug the USB 3 drive in and copy your images to the PC’s hard drive.

Hopefully, you have an additional internal drive for storing images.

If you have done some editing on the road, you can import the edits from the travel catalog to your main home catalog. In LR under “File” at the top, simply select – import from another catalog. Then update the folder location in LR if the path changes between drives. That way you don’t lose edits done on the road, and your home catalog will be a complete set.

Tip: If you have cloud storage, using it while on the road makes a lot of sense. That way you have an extra copy of those images, no matter what happens to your luggage, or say the USB 3 drive was stolen during the journey. While images can be re-edited, if the source photos are lost, you’re in trouble right, so protect them multiple ways!

 

Sports / Action

Sports and Action Photography Tips

 

 

 

 

 

What’s different about sports shots, well they happen fast and most of the time there isn’t a do over. So careful planning, anticipation and the right gear help a lot. What can you do with the equipment that you have, well here are a few tips and settings that may guide you in the right direction:

Let’s start with what we can control – camera settings, position relative to the action, lenses. When possible, its a good idea to have two bodies, each with different lenses attached. Mono pods are pretty useful if you shooting with larger telephotos. Fast apertures lenses let you shoot in dimmer ambient light conditions, they also allows you to control depth of field and isolate the subject a little better.

The shot above was at f4, and I was fairly close to the runner, so the background is still busy, and the subject isn’t as isolated as I would of liked, but that can be corrected a bit in post processing. In this edited version, I have used Photoshop to blur the background some more. The degree of blur can easily be adjusted.

 

Some bodies are more oriented to large burst rates like a D500, and some are not. If yours isn’t one them, then you have to be more selective on how long you hold that shutter down. Possibly shoot more jpegs if the lighting allows, and you don’t need max dynamic range that shooting RAW provides.

Below are some sports specific settings that I took from one of my older bodies:

AF Sport Settings:

  • A1 AF-C Release + Focus
  • A3 Dynamic Area – 9 or 21 points
  • A4 Focus tracking short -1 or 2
  • A8 Number of focus points – Normally set to max
  • Active D-Lighting – Off (when lighting allows)
  • NEF (RAW) bit depth 12-bit compressed

Other Tips:

  • Back button focus can come in handy if you find yourself switching back and forth between AFC and AFC on Nikon bodies.
  • Use AF fine tune for telephoto lenses, to make sure your images are as sharp.
  • Don’t be afraid to use higher ISO’s to help maintain reasonable shutter speeds, typically that is at least 1/500 of second, but may need to be higher if the subject is very fast and you want to stop the action.
  • Panning can help portray a sense of speed and naturally blur the background.

 

Photoshop

Photoshop User Tips
Photoshop is a powerful tool, it lets you manipulate images in creative ways, not possible in the past. Good photos, can be touched up to look great or morphed into something totally new.

 

This is a simple blended image with an overlay and a mask, but can be used to make a statement about the environment. The opacity of the industrial plant is turned down to about 60%, to give its foggy appearance that it sits somewhere in the back ground. In reality the back ground is the ocean, and the plant is on the beach behind the child.

The work flow of Photoshop needs a little more thought to protect images compared to Lightroom (LR).  In LR the meta data is being manipulated, leaving the original image intact. Not so in Photoshop, so you should always make a copy of the image(s) before editing. Once in Photoshop you can make a copy of the background and work with layers to protect the content.

Fortunately, Photoshop does include tools for batch processing images (Batch Image Processor) and changing file types. Once you have your duplicate edit folder copied and selected. Open ACL, you can do small general changes there if needed, sync them and then open the images you want to edit further in PS.

Starting with the first image, you should always make a duplicate background layer (the layer tab – Duplicate Layer). Next, utilize layer masks for none destructive editing. If you want to insert an object into the main image, open it as a smart object, you have more flexibility in scaling it that way.

Photoshop’s content aware touch ups are more sophisticated compared to LR, but LR has come a long way in the last couple of releases with the clone and healing tool. Content aware is a great way to clean up small imperfections in a photograph or remove something distracting in the original image.

Another feature is the Windows tab Action panel. It allows you to record a series of edits and then easily apply those same edits later to other images. Its a great way to save time and avoid having to perform the same edit over and over again. Once your done, its easy to export the image to different formats. Always save the edits in a tiff or psd format, so that you don’t lose edit layers.

 

Lightroom

Lightroom User Tips
I think one of the best general purpose digital post processing tools that a photographer can use is Adobe LR. I receive nothing free from Adobe, but I do like the tool. It is much easier to learn than Photoshop.

Here are a couple of pointers that may be useful to new LR users to check out:

Presets: Adobe gives you some, but if you find your self doing similar types of edits on photos you can create your own presets. Go to the Develop Preset panel (on the left side) and click the Create New Preset icon (top & right of the word “Presets”). This brings up the Preset window, choose select none, and then check only the specific items you want to save. Once save you can easily apply these to any new images, or a group of photos.

Adjustment Brush: This lets you apply specific changes to only a small portion of the image. Think of it as a Photoshop mask, without having to use a lot of layers. Layers are a good think in Photoshop, because you can turn on and off many changes with out affecting the base image. LR doesn’t break out the changes as layers, but you have the ability to make many small changes to different areas.

Clone / Heal: This tool will allow you to replace imperfections one of two ways. The clone option blends in pixels from the surrounding are, to hide some small unwanted blemish or object in the image. Clone basically replaces pixels with those from another area, but either one can remove something unwanted or a distraction from the image.

Lens / Camera Calibration: This is an area where you have a lot more options when shooting RAW images. LR has many automatic correction for most Nikon and Canon lenses, and well as camera profiles that can be applied to make the image look more natural by correcting wide angle distortion, or have the colors look more like the standard Nikon D2X.

Copyright Metadata Preset: If some of the meta data like copy right information is missing, you can use this to add it and apply it to multiple images.

Camera Stuff

Do All Roads Lead To FX

Do you ever look at used camera equipment ads, many now start by saying “selling all my DX gear, moving to FX”. Almost like people are running for their lives to escape a fate worse than death – Having to shoot with DX lenses. The funny thing is most people don’t know why they are going to FX, but it cost more, so it “has” to be better.

 

Before you sell all your equipment, take the time to know the Pros and Cons of going to a FX body. I have a brief list below that hits some key benefits of each format. It really comes down to the type of photography that you do, and of course the size of your wallet. Digital technology is still emerging, it is not a one size fits all sensor solution yet.

DX Advantages:

  •  Smaller cameras and lenses to haul around, size does matter.
  • DX  lenses are generally less expensive. 
  • Single zoom lenses can cover a greater focal length range. A big plus when two lenses, a fast 70-200mm and a 17-55mm f2.8 zoom will cover 90% of most shoots.
  • You get a free teleconverter, also called a crop factor, which means a 200mm lens gives you the equivalent of a 300mm on a APC DX body, great for sports on big fields.
  • You can enlarge a 12 MP DX file just as much as a 12 MP FX file.
  • For a given lens and camera to subject distance you get more DOF.

FX Advantages:

  • No more doing crop factor conversions in your head, you get the field of view you expect from a given focal length.
  • Wide angle, is really wide angle, and you don’t have to have a super wide angle 12mm lens, because  18mm works just fine.
  • You have less depth of filed for a given focal length and subject distance, so the bokeh looks a little better, and you don’t have to shoot at f1.4 to have your subject stand out, you get less DOF.
  • More detail in portraits and close ups with the same lens.
  • Better high ISO performance due to pixel size, so you have less noise in low light conditions and can leave the flash at home.

Computer Tips

PC Upgrades

There are a lot of computer options to choose from, since I mainly work with Windows systems, most of my advice will be centered on that OS. I run Windows 7 x64 both at home and professionally, so I have not spent much time with Windows 10. A lot of people simply like the user interface with Windows 7.

 

Windows 10 does have some advantages, like touch screen, but there is a learning curve. Will Windows 10 run all Windows 7 applications, mostly. A lot of drivers are compatible, but printers and graphics cards can be a different story. You will need the latest drivers which may not be available. That means purchasing a new printer or graphics card.

Some applications will realize the OS is not Windows 7 and you will need to down load or purchase updated software.  Some of the new features of Windows 10 are that it uses UEFI boot by default, which does decrease start up times. However, Windows 7 can also be configured to use UEFI for the same advantage. Both Windows 7 and 10 are fully compatible with SSD drives and use TRIM natively.

Tips:  If you want to install Windows 7 with a UEFI partition, there are a couple of requirements:

  • The boot device for the install must have a bootx64.efi driver under the efi\boot\   path, if it is an USB drive and not a DVD.
  • HDD disks often need an AHCI driver for the best performance, which should be loaded during the Windows 7 install under drivers.
  • SSD drives may prefer the more general Microsoft driver, and will give   you a warning during the install if you load the Intel f6flpy-x64 driver.
  • Companies like Paragon offer tools to migrate your HDD drive to SSD. Samsung also offers a free imaging tool, but it only works on Samsung SSD drives.

UEFI partitions include a 100 MB FAT 32 EFI system volume and a hidden 128 MB Microsoft Reserved Partition (MSR). A clone drive will need to copy these as well as the OS or the new SSD drive will not boot.Yes, SSD drives still wear out over time, due to a finite amount of writes, but that should be several years for home users, as long as you go with one of the leading drives.

The disadvantage for wide spread use is still cost, but if you paying over $1000 for a system, another $100 dollars for a SSD drives won’t break the bank and will definitely improve performance. It’s optimal to still use a large 1 – 2 TB HDD for storage and put the OS and page file on the SSD volume. If you do purchase a SSD drive make sure that it is at least 120 GB, because you need to keep about 25% free space on the volume for the best performance.

If a clone tool recognizes UEFI and moves the boot partition, your original source drive will no longer boot, only the SSD drive. The source drive can become a secondary data disk, but if that is not your intention, be aware! Regardless of the OS version you choose, I do recommend a SSD drive for new system with fast i7-4770 type processors, the performance limitation will most likely be your HDD, and not your video card or memory.

On my system the Windows experience index went up from 5.9 to 7.9 with the installation of a Samsung 840 EVO SSD drive for the boot OS. What does that mean in real terms, well boot times go down from 30 seconds to less than 20 seconds to the log on screen. In addition to much faster read times (5X), you will also get with the newer second generation drives better MTBF and a longer warranty over HDD drives.