Archive for the ‘Lightroom’ Category

Two “Must Reads” for New Lightroom Users

January 4, 2010

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom BoxI see many posts on the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Support forum and the Digital Asset Management (DAM) Forum where photographers are considering Lightroom.

There is almost too much information on Lightroom available on the web. It can be overwhelming. But there are a couple of really good blog posts that summarise the essentials of Lightroom”s capabilities:

I wish I’d read them before I plunged into Lightroom from ThumbsPlus and ACDSee Pro.

Here We Go Again – Lightroom 2.6 Available

December 18, 2009

Adobe Photoshop LightroomAdobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.6 and its required DNG Converter (5.6) are now available for download from http://www.adobe.com/downloads/updates/. That’s a month since the 2.5 update came out.

This is the release many have been waiting for to support the Canon EOS-7D and Nikon D3s. I don’t know if they made any changes from the Release Candidate that has been available for almost a month.

What if for Lightroom 3 Adobe said that the product will only support DNG files? Then they’d only have to release a new DNG converter to support new cameras. I wonder if the photography community has enough confidence in DNG that they’d accept it. DNG is a mature technology: Adobe introduced it in 2004. DNG has immense advantages over a multitude of proprietary RAW formats. DNG is an open specification so it isn’t dependent on Adobe’s continued prosperity or whims.

Surely if DNG is good enough for Leica it is good enough for the rest of us.

Moreover Adobe could surely make the DNG converter more modular so users do not have to download the full product every time. They could release a new DLL (or the equivalent for the Mac).

This is a bigger concern for users on slower internet connections. I guess it isn’t on the radar screen for the Adobe team as they assume everybody has fast connections for their work machines.

I looked at the list of other defects fixed in Lightroom 2.6:

  • The crop tool would unlock a locked aspect ratio after a rotation adjustment
  • For Mac OS X 10.6 customers, visual artifacts could appear when panning an image viewed at 1:1 in the Develop module.
  • For Mac OS X 10.6 customers, the 10.6.2 update included a correction that prevented Lightroom 2 from opening more than two files using the Edit-in-Photoshop functionality.
  • Lightroom 2.6 provides a fix for an issue affecting PowerPC customers using the final Lightroom 2.5 update on the Mac. The issue, introduced in the demosaic change to address sensors with unequal green response, has the potential to create artifacts in highlight areas when processing raw files from Sony, Olympus, Panasonic and various medium format digital camera backs.
  • Lightroom 2.5 and earlier did not support the updated Panasonic DMC-LX3 aspect ratio modes added with the camera’s latest version 2.0 firmware.

From http://www.adobe.com/special/photoshop/Lightroom_26_ReadMe.pdf.

The Crop Tool fix is the only one that affects me and I have never noticed the issue. Again I wonder how Adobe decides what to include in a point-release.

By-the-by, there is something wrong with the Adobe Support Forums I’ve been accessing to ask and answer Lightroom questions. For the past few days the site has been impossibly slow. Other sites are fine with the new Asia America Gateway so it must be something up with the Adobe infrastructure.

Asoke Market, Bangkok

December 15, 2009

When I wrote about the Terminal 21 construction project on Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok I mentioned that there’s still an old market that has not been demolished to make way for the development.

Asoke Market could disappear at any time. So I stopped by on Monday afternoon to take some pictures.

Asoke Market

Asoke Market Sign in Thai, English & Chinese

Asoke Market

Inside Asoke Market. Note the cat

Asoke Market

Fruit Shop

Asoke Market

Dry Goods

Asoke Market

Hardware

I decided they looked best in black & white so I used Lightroom’s tools to render what I think is a pleasing, high contrast picture.The Nikon Coolpix P6000 did a good job with the lens set at its widest setting.

This is one of the few spots in “new” Bangkok where Buddhist monks come in the early morning to receive alms from devout people. Vendors set up to sell food for the gifts. All sorts of people including sleepy bar girls, taxi drivers and businesspeople on their way to work stop here. They receive a few words of blessing in return for their donation. I don’t think the monks will come when there’s a Starbucks on the corner. In the afternoon the market is quieter – the monks return to their temple before noon.

I have not taken pictures of the alms-giving. I am very cautious about taking pictures of monks and the donation is a spiritual moment. I don’t think my lens would be welcome, although Thai people would be too polite to say anything.

Lightroom Crash Worries Me

December 15, 2009

Perhaps this integrated approach to image management has its downside.

I was using my newly acquired skills with the Lightroom Adjustment Brush to try “dodging” an over-exposed portion of a picture.

From This ...

Without any warning the image portion went completely black and Lightroom hung. It was unresponsive to keyboard or mouse.

To This

I had to terminate the Lightroom process. I rebooted my machine (Windows XP, Lightroom 2.5). Everything seemed fine after I restarted but I backed up and optimized my catalog to be on the safe side. The incident wasted 10 to 15 minutes and increased my blood pressure.

I expect Lightroom ran out of memory: a memory leak. I’d been using it for some time without restarting. I read somewhere that the advanced editing tool use a lot of memory. I had not used them much before.

The problem started me thinking that maybe it is not a good idea to combine my photo management database and most of my photo editing in one application. If the editing component crashes it could easily corrupt the catalog database. For performance reasons database applications often delay writing their buffers to disk. The corruption may not show up for some time.

In the old days when I used Thumbs Plus I would edit a picture in Photoshop. Photoshop was a separate operating system process. So it was very unlikely that a Photoshop crash could affect the Thumbs plus (Microsoft Access) database.

Almost 30 years after the PC was introduced software is still unreliable and always will be. It’s written by humans and it’s fiendishly complex. I wonder if I am putting too much reliance on one piece of software (Lightroom) and it will come back to haunt me one day.

As the Thais say, I “think too much.”

HD Video & Digital Cameras – Dpreview.com

December 11, 2009

Beginner's guide to HD video

http://www.dpreview.com/learn/?/Guides/hd_beginners_guide_01.htm

I have written before that I am not a video person. But this is a very useful and timely beginner’s guide to the video capabilities of the latest cameras. Shooting video is one of the reasons I may buy a Canon EOS-7D next year. I want to learn the technology. If the EOS-7D’s video is good enough for many professionals it is good enough for me.

My Nikon Coolpix P6000 has some very basic video capability. I have used it occasionally but it is not impressive.

With the inclusion of video on so many cameras now it is surely becoming an imperative for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to support it. At least for import and metadata purposes. It is infuriating that Lightroom 2 ignores it completely and refuses to even import a thumbnail.

Jeff Friedl attempted to address this with a Video Asset Management plugin but he was limited by Lightroom’s architecture and it is not a good solution. I tried it and deleted it.

I wonder how the Lightroom team view the video challenge? I don’t think there is anything about it in the Lightroom 3 Beta release.

If I was a Lightroom product manager I would want to keep the product’s focus on still photography but I would:

  1. Allow users to import video files to the Lightroom catalog. Indeed I think Lightroom should import all files and provide at least basic indexing for them. Leaving files un-imported is unforgivable.
  2. Provide thumbnails in Grid View at least.
  3. Allow users to add metadata in the same way as for still photos. If they cannot embed the metadata as XMP blocks in the video file then store it in sidecar files as they do for RAW pictures.
  4. Don’t address video editing in Lightroom 3. Instead allow users to edit the video by linking to the user’s selected video editor in the same way they link to Photoshop or another photo editor today. This would also make the Lightroom team friends with the Adobe Premiere team.
  5. It’s probably easy to display the video using a standard plugin.

That should not be a lot of work. Good for the tick sheet!

It will still be a while before you see anything from the Frugal Bangkok Photographer on You Tube.

I Don’t Like Video Training!

December 9, 2009

I never finished Chris Orwig’s Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 video training course. Weeks ago I said I would spend more time to get a fuller understanding of Lightroom’s Develop Module tools. But I never did.

I guess there are two types of people in the world – those who can learn from videos on their computers and those who prefer to read a book. I am in the second camp. I am old-fashioned and prefer to cuddle up with a good book – have it beside me when I am using the computer, take it to the WC with me and so on. Maybe one day I will get an e-book reader like the Kindle but for now I like paper.

I went to the what’s probably the biggest and most comprehensive bookshop (bookstore) in Thailand – Chula Books on Siam Square. The second floor mezzanine is devoted to English language books and tucked away in the corner are computer reference books. Chula Books isn’t great at organizing their books on the shelves and I found books on Photoshop and Lightroom scattered around everywhere with no logic.

Lightroom 2 GuideThere were also out of date books on Lightroom 1 – pretty useless these days. The only book I found on Lightroom 2 was “Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 : a digital photographer’s guide” by Davids Huss and Plotkin.

I don’t know if it’s the best book on Lightroom. I have seen high praise for Martin Evening’s book: The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 Book: The Complete Guide for Photographers but Chula Books didn’t have it to compare. They will order books for you but it takes a while.

No matter, I spent some time with the Davids and now I am much more confident with Lightroom’s Develop Module. Now I need some practice.

The nearest Border’s bookstore is in Singapore. I used to enjoy browsing there. If you know a better bookshop for computer and photography books in Thailand please let me know!

Lightroom 2.5 BSOD

December 6, 2009

Yesterday I was quietly using Lightroom 2.5 on my Windows XP laptop. I shut it down as normal. But this time something caused the infamous Windows “Blue Screen of Death”. The screen blanked too quickly for me to see the reason. Windows restarted normally and I started Lightroom again.

My heart sank because it opened a catalog with no pictures in it. My first thought was that my catalog had evaporated. Then I realised that it had opened a default blank catalog and not the last one it had opened.

I opened my working catalog and all seemed fine but for the fact that my customised nameplate and panel end marks were set to the Lightroom defaults. Upon a closer examination I found that none of my plugins were registered either.

I added back my nameplate and panel end marks and started to reload my plugins. Then I saw that the once I purchased from Jeff Friedl (Picasa and Flickr Uploaders, Metadata Presets and so on) were all unregistered. I was wondering if I had saved the registration information – the receipt numbers from Paypal when I made my donations.)

Then it dawned on me – the problem was that Lightroom’s preferences file had evaporated. That’s a separate file called Lightroom 2 Preferences.agprefs in the directory C:\Documents and Settings\BKKPhotographer\Application Data\Adobe\Lightroom\Preferences. Windows hides all the folders in the Application Data tree by default so I had to hunt for it.

I had a backup of the file in a ZIP archive stored by my Config Backup plugin (http://www.thephotogeek.com/lightroom/config-backup/). I restored that file and everything was back to normal. It seems that Jeff Friedl stores plugin registration information in this file.

The problem is that I have no idea what went wrong. Cosmic rays? A transient disk failure? I’ve exited Lightroom without problems hundreds of times in the six months I have had this PC. What changed?

I could have searched around for some Windows dump file but I don’t think it would have been illuminating.

I doubt “Get a Mac” would be a solution: they have fallible hardware too. It could have been a lot worse. It was a reminder that even with up-to-date equipment and software you can lose everything with no warning. Much as I dislike it I must think like an IT Manager if I want to keep my work safe.

Lightroom Support for Canon EOS-7D

November 21, 2009

At last! Adobe have released “Release Candidates” for the software needed to support the Canon EOS-7D in Lightroom and Photoshop. That will be a relief to many photographers who have been waiting for it since they purchased their 7D.

Adobe are careful to describe a Release Candidate:

The ‘release candidate’ label indicates that this update is well tested but would benefit from additional community testing before it is distributed automatically to all of our customers. The Lightroom team would like the community to help verify the quality of this update through normal usage as this will ensure that the application is tested on a diversity of hardware and software configurations not available internally at Adobe.

That’s far better than using the “Beta” label. It’s interesting how these terms have changed over time. When I worked at HP we referred to what’s now called a Beta as an Alpha. For us Beta is what Adobe are calling a Release Candidate. I think the RC usage is consistent with the Microsoft terminology.

I don’t have a 7D and I have only just updated to Lightroom 2.6 so I think I’ll wait until Adobe release the software officially.

I have seen it written many times that Adobe does a better job of rendering Camera RAW data than Canon’s own Digital Photo Professional. I find this amazing given that the DPP engineers should have access to all the inside information and to the people who designed the sensor and firmware. Maybe it is that the best software engineers want to work for a software company rather than be second-class citizens in a hardware focused company like Canon.

Where have I heard that before?

Installed Lightroom 2.5

November 17, 2009

It took three attempts to download the 139MB update package from Adobe, but I finally managed to get it all and installed the latest Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.5 over my 2.4.

I hope it will fix the “ever-changing metadata status” problem. I found it has not fixed the “exploding keyword tree” problem.

I’ll look out for other changes in its behaviour. I am very fortunate compared with many other users in that I have had very few problems with Lightroom and none that are critical. (Touch wood.)