Lightroom

Don’t Forget Camera Calibration

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Woodland at Mount Rainier, Washington, USA. Olympus EM5, ISO400, f/4.5. Handheld.
Woodland at Mount Rainier, Washington, USA. Olympus EM5, ISO400, f/4.5. Handheld.

There is an often forgotten panel at the bottom of the development controls in Lightroom’s Develop module and that’s Camera Calibration. Here you can select the profile that’s used to convert the RAW file into an image. It sorts out how image data in the RAW maps to colours and tones in the finished image.

In the past I have written about how the profiles provided often aren’t that great and that you can achieve better by making your own. But now I have a new favourite profile for my Olympus EM5 camera and that is “Camera Natural”.

Camera Calibration tab in Lightroom with the Adobe Standard profile selected.
Camera Calibration tab in Lightroom with the Adobe Standard profile selected.

I can’t say for sure when this was introduced or when it was changed. I certainly can’t recall it giving good results in the past or perhaps I have just overlooked it. The changes it introduces are quite subtle but I think it creates a more natural (I suppose that’s where it gets its name) and appealing. The image at the top of the blog was created using the Camera Natural profile and below is a comparison. Looking at the images side by side it’s difficult to tell the difference but when your switching between profiles in Lightroom it’s like night and day.

Comparison of Profiles on the image
Comparison of Profiles on the image

As I say, subtle differences but well worth experimenting with if you shoot RAW and use Lightroom.

Friday Image No.91

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Haweswater. 4 image series on the Olympus EM5 with 14mm prime. ISO200, 1/160" at f/8.0
Haweswater. 4 image series on the Olympus EM5 with 14mm prime. ISO200, 1/160″ at f/8.0

I shot this image almost 3 years ago in June 2013. It was my first outing with the Olympus EM5, a camera that I feel has changed my photography. This is actually 4 images merged in Lightroom. I shot a lot of these panoramic series back then as I found the EM5 was so easy to use. But until the new Lightroom merge feature was introduced, I have left many of these to sit on my hard drive.

The location is Haweswater in the Lake District. It’s actually a reservoir that’s been engineered to look like a lake. There’s even a very pretty manmade island. It’s a shame they had to flood a village to do this. If you have never visited this area, it’s well worth a look. It’s much quieter than the rest of the lakes and the Haweswater hotel makes a great place to stay.

Hope you like the shot and have a great weekend.

Printing Weirdness

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Forest Scene. Olympus EM5, ISO200, f/6.3, 1/15" handheld.
Forest Scene. Olympus EM5, ISO200, f/6.3, 1/15″ handheld.

I want to share a very frustrating printing experience with you in case anyone has any ideas about how to resolve it.

I have been printing using an Epson 3880 printer for around 3 years now using Lightroom as the host software. During this time, I have regularly switched between Gloss and Matte inks for the different paper types. Recently I made the switch from a Matte surface paper to Baryta (which requires Gloss ink). At this time, I made a Matte paper print then immediately switched to Gloss to compare the results.

In making this switch I was careful to reconfigure the printer as I have done many times. I even have the setups for both papers saved to allow for this switching. Both papers are profiles using profiles I created and I know to be accurate.

When I made these two prints, the Matte print was perfect but the Baryta print is completely wrong, to the point it looks like one of the black inks has run out (it hasn’t). You can see the result below. Nothing changed between making the two prints other than the printer switched itself between Matte and Gloss black ink.

Scan showing poor colour balance
Scan showing poor colour balance

My first reaction was to recheck all the settings and these were fine. I then ran an ink check which showed no problems but I carried out a head cleaning just to be certain. This made no difference. After a lot of frustrating failures, I decided to switch back to Matte paper. Guess what; this was also exhibiting the problem.

Now for the weird bit. The problem only occurs when printing from Lightroom. All other software including Photoshop prints fine. Here is an example of the same image printed on the same piece of Matte paper, one image from Lightroom and one from Photoshop.

Side by side print comparison. Lightroom is on the right.
Side by side print comparison. Lightroom is on the right.

I have checked the Adobe forums and help and it appears a few people have experienced the issue. What I can’t find is a resolution. There was a suggestion that uninstalling and re-installing Lightroom fixed it, but not for me.

So far I have tried uninstalling and reinstalling Lightroom, the print driver and the printer profiles. I have even gone as far are recreating the printer profiles but the problem persists. If anyone has any suggestions I would be interested to hear.

There is however a silver lining to this cloud. I decided to go back to using Qimage as my printer software and the results are much nicer and of a higher quality when compared to Lightroom. I suspect I will stick with Qimage even if I solve the Lightroom problem.

Thanks for reading.

Useful Lightroom Technique

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Canon G16, ISO80, f/3.5, 1/25".
Canon G16, ISO80, f/3.5, 1/25″.

If you use Lightroom you will no doubt be familiar with the clarity adjustment slider. This can be used to adjust the midtone contrast of an image. Increase the contrast and the finest details pop out of the image. Reduce the contrast and the image takes on an ethereal haze.

In addition to the main Clarity slider found in the Develop module, a clarity slider can also be found in each of the Gradient tools as well as the Adjustment Brush. With the main Clarity slider so easily placed, it can be easy to forget about these other sliders, which is a mistake.

If you ever find yourself in a position where you want to make an object stand out from its surroundings you can achieve this with the Clarity adjustment. But rather than use a global clarity adjustment select the adjustment brush. You should then use this brush tool to outline the object you want to emphasise. Having done this you can apply the Clarity adjustment selectively to the object.

In the image above I wanted to make this door handle on the inside of a steel door stand out from the door as otherwise the image would appear flat. The adjustment brush tool was used to select the handle so that Clarity adjustment could be applied to just that area. This is also a great technique to use with architectural subjects. Also don’t forget that you might need multiple applications with the brush to achieve the desired effect.

Lightroom 6 Panorama Feature

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Three image stitch in Lightroom 6 from the Canon G16.
Three image stitch in Lightroom 6 from the Canon G16.

One thing that I love to do is shoot panoramic images. I have an XPan Panoramic film camera and for digital I have a number of tripod attachments that allow me to shoot sequences of images for stitching. What I also do a lot of is shoot “informal panoramic sequences” where I hand hold the camera. I enjoy this but to be honest, I seldom get around to stitching these. I will go as far as grouping the images into a stack in Lightroom but then having to export them to Photoshop or Hugin in order to do the stitching is a little bit too much effort for me.

This is where the new stitching tool in Lightroom has taken me by surprise. I didn’t expect to like it very much but in fact I love it. All you need to do is select the images you want to merge and then chose “Photo Merge| Panorama…” from the Lightroom pop-up menu. This provides a dialog where you can select from one of 3 methods of merging the images or select the auto option. There is also an auto crop option to produce the finished image. Usually I am not a big fan of any tool that starts with the word “Auto” but these actually work very well.

The other surprise about the panorama stitching (besides the results being excellent quality) is that you can merge vertical image sequences as well as horizontal. By vertical I am not referring to the camera being held in the portrait format but shooting a sequence where you start at the bottom and move the camera upwards vertically. All this is done automatically before the resulting image file is created and saved into your Lightroom catalogue as a DNG file rather than as a TIFF or JPEG. The DNG format then gives you lots of flexibility to edit the image further.

This is a very well put together solution and for those who are interested I have posted a demonstration video on my Lenscraft website. If you are not already a member, do sign up as it’s completely free.

Now I need to find some HDR image sequences to try out the merge to HDR feature.

Friday image No.027

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Olympus OMD. All processing in Lightroom
Olympus OMD + 25mm prime lens. All processing in Lightroom

This week has just run away with me again. I think the problem (besides too much work and my mum still being ill) is that I love to experiment. I have just spent the last hour developing some Lightroom film-like presets. So I decided to save some time and share a recent image processed with one of the presets – no other adjustments, just a Lightroom preset.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Free Lightroom Profile – Faded Summer Colour

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Example of the Faded Summer Colour preset for Lightroom. Available as a free download from my Lenscraft website.
Example of the Faded Summer Colour preset for Lightroom. Available as a free download from my Lenscraft website.

I promised I would do it if anyone asked, and you have. You can now download my Faded Summer Colour Lightroom preset for free. The preset was used to create the image above and the one in my previous post.

You can download it from a new Presets and Textures page on my Lenscraft website. You will need to log in as a member to download the file (but membership is free). When you download the zip file it contains the preset, installation instructions and a thumbnail sample image.

I hope you enjoy.