Category Archives: Adobe Lightroom

Lightroom Plugin Analyzes Metadata

I discovered a very cool plugin for Lightroom from Lightroom Analytics that takes your metadata and gives you all types of cool graphs.  It involves installing a plugin into Lightroom to export the meta data for the selected images.  You then open up a HMTL page and drag the exported data into the finder, and you are all done with a lot of graphs.

I recently acquired a full frame Nikon D800 and was wondering what lens I should buy.   To see what I have been using, in Lightroom I used the filter to see all of the thousands of images taken with the D300 and exported the metadata using this plugin.  Then I dragged the produced file into their webpage and it produced all types of graphs, including the above one.

I then looked at one of the other graphs it produced to see what focal lengths I actually used and I saw this graph, that reported them in actual focal length and also equivalent full frame.  Click the images to see enlarged.

RealFocalLength

From these charts I see that I like to shoot very wide, from the widest I had (18 mm for 35 mm equivalent) up to about 100 mm.  There were several items in the telephoto range, mostly at 300 mm, but not as many as very wide.  From this I decided to get a mid range zoom and an ultra wide zoom .

Next I looked at what apertures I was using and what shutter speeds.  The program produced these charts.

AperatureUsed

Most of the time I was stopped down to 5.6 or smaller so spending the extra money and weight penalty to get the f2.8 pro lenses maybe was not needed.  I opted for the level between the pro and consumer and purchased the Nikon 16-35 mm f4 and the Nikon 24-120 mm f4.

By using the metadata from my past photography I can better understand what type of equipment will best serve me when switching to the full frame format camera.

To cover the longer reach, I brought of our retirement my 200 mm f4 prime lens and will give that a try.  With 36 megapixels on the Nikon D800, you can easily crop if you need to get more reach.

There are many other graphs such as which camera body you are using the most (including smartphones), focal lengths, exposures, exposure bias, as well as details for each of the lenses.  Check it out.

The Computer is the Darkroom and Sometimes the Camera

When I was much younger I built a full dark room in the basement of our first home.  I fondly remember buying a Besler enlarger that would work with 33 mm and 120 film.  I would develop my own black and white film.  Although I would do mostly black and white prints where you could magically watch the print develop in the tray of developer chemical, I also would make some color prints using a drum where you poured the chemicals into the end while it rotated.  Any post processing I did was with a filter on the enlarger or using dogging and burning in while making the print.

How things have changed and the darkroom just doesn’t exist anymore for most all people.  Instead the computer is the darkroom and the tools we have are vastly superior what we could do with film.  It has gone to the extent that using CGI, many product “photos” are not really photos at all since no camera was used.  Instead the image was entirely created using only a computer.  Look at the following image of a Nikon DSLR.  Can you tell that this was created only with a computer?

keyshot1

This image was created using a program called called KeyShot by Luxion.  For more information visitthe KeyShot website gallery that currently has 13 pages full of these renders.  This brings me to my view of photography and the different aspects.  Many aspiring photographers spend most of their attention on the far right of the graphic below and talk mostly about the equipment.

what-make-for-great-photo

Needless to say, the highest quality camera and lens will not, by itself, create a great photograph.  Yes, the photo may be sharp, and well exposed, but could be rather uninteresting.  Needless to say, those who spend their energy talking only about their equipment don’t post may of their photos for the world to see.  They often spend more energy and time arguing why their brand or type of camera is better than they do with actually taking and post processing photos.

At the other end is the artistic aspect where those with the right skills know how to capture a great photograph or video by using the right techniques.  They understand the principles of depth of field and lighting.  The may go out in the early morning or late evening to get the right shot.

Where these two extremes can come together, the meeting of the technical and artistic, is in the area of post processing.  Today that means a good computer and the right software, along with some computer skills and some artistic abilities.

Post Processing Software

In this middle ground, this is what works best for me.

  • Lightroom (Adobe).  This one of the best programs of it’s kind.  It not only handles all the organizing of your photos but now includes many tools for post processing.  I find that 90% of the time, this is all I need from moving the image from the camera, to post processing, to generated an image for the end use.  Although version 4 has improved it’s handling of video images, it still lacks significantly in that area, but when it comes to handle JPEG or RAW images, it excels.
  • Photoshop (Adobe).  Still the kind of image editors.  For those times when I need to go beyond the abilities of Lightroom, from within Lightroom I will choose to edit in Photoshop.  That will create a virtual copy and you still will have the original and the edited version showing in Lightroom.
  • Nik Software (Google).  Google bought this company and recently reduced it’s prices.  It has several modules that provide some fantastic post processing abilities with less effort that would be required using only Photoshop.
  • Final Cut Pro (Apple).  For video editing I find this the best software for myself.  There are both simpler and more sophisticated approaches, but for me this is the program to use.

For some this might be overkill while for others it might not be enough, but for me, this is all I use or feel I need.

 

 

Adobe Camera Profiles for Lightroom

Post Processing of RAW Images

This discussion is specifically about the post processing of RAW images (See my prior posting on Shooting Raw Images).   One of the issues of shooting images in RAW, is that often post processing is needed since processing can not occur inside the camera.  When a camera outputs a JPEG image the camera itself will do some processing, depending on how the manufacture setup things and the setting selected by the user.

The parameters for this processing is guarded by too many camera manufactures who seemed more interested in selling their software than supporting the users. Adobe has provide some excellent software applications for post processing RAW images, including Adobe Camera Raw, Adobe Photoshop and more recently Adobe Lightroom.  One of the weaknesses of these products is their inability to read the in camera setting and apply those during post processing.  People would therefore often feel that RAW images looked too flat and were not vivid enough.

If you have your Nikon DSLR set on “Vivid” for example and shoot in both RAW + JPEG, when you open both images in Photoshop, the JEPG image, which had the in camera processing, will appear much more vivid than the RAW image.  If you open the same two images in the Nikon program Capture NX, then it would read the in camera setting and apply it to the RAW image so the output would look much closer to the JPEG.

Adobe Camera Specific Profiles

Adobe, has released camera specific profiles that approximate these in camera settings.  I have tried them with my Nikon D300 and they look very good.  To do a comparision, I opened the same RAW image in both Adobe Lightroom 2 and Nikon Capture NX and placed them side by side on the same monitor, then did a screen capture.  The intent here is just to look at the color adjustments. No other adjustments were made.

This first example this shows with Lightroom using the Adobe Lightroom Camera Specific “Vivid” profile on the left and Capture NX using the “Neutral” setting on the right. I start out to show you how this profile can change the image significantly.  You will see what you expect, the one on the left has more vivid colors.  To view each image enlarged, click on it.

Now I changed the Capture NX (image on the right) to use the Vivid setting.  If the Adobe profiles are good, then the colors of both images would be close.

Next I set both the Lightroom Image (left) and the Capture NX Image (right) to use the setting “D2X Mode 3”.  This is a setting offered in the Nikon D300 to approximate what the Nikon D2X would produce.

And the last comparison is both set to “Neutral”.

Based on this informal testing, I feel that Adobe has done a good job at creating the camera profile for the Nikon D300.  Considering that using Lightroom is a pleasure to use and much more power compared with the poor interface and slow Nikon Capture NX, I am excited about these camera profiles.  Some may feel that Capture NX still does a better job but for me I would not say so and if it did, not enough of a difference to struggle using the Nikon program.

How to Use the Camera Profiles

View this video for more information and how to download and install this camera profiles.  Note that these profiles only are working with RAW images and they only work with Lightroom version 2 and ACR 4.5.  However note that there is no longer any need to download the camera profiles separately. They are shipping with the latest Camera Raw update (5.2 at the time of this writing) and will be shipping with the next update of Lightroom (i.e., 2.2).

In Lightroom, in the Develop module, under the Camera Settings, you will see this drop down (but only if you are viewing a RAW image).

These are the options that you can get for the Nikon  D300.  Each camera has it’s own options.  I found it best to create a preset for the ones I wish to use the most.

View the above video for more information.  Also see the FAQs on the Adobe website.