Get the light right

It’s all about light, right? Here’s a great article about understanding and improving the lighting in your digital photos. It’s a chapter from Kevin Ames’ book, “The Digital Photographer’s Notebook”. For a shorter, simpler treatise about light in your images, I recommend, “Just Wait 32 Seconds” by Michael Reichmann at the Luminious Landscape site. Do you have a good tutorial about lighting to recommend? I’d love to add it to our list here, or, better yet, post it on Adobe Design Center. See Submit a Tutorial for how to do this. My next post will be from our office in Bucharest, Romania. I’ll include a photo or two.

Printing from Lightroom

There was a comment on one of my earlier posts about having trouble getting a good quality print from Lightroom. Below is a list of my recommended tutorials on how to get a good print from Lightroom.

First, get a good overview of the Lightroom Print module:

Print Overview by Dave Cross

Output your photos by Matt Kloskowski

Now that you understand the basics of the Print Module, try these tutorials:

Lightroom’s Print Module and Color Management by Mikkel Aaland

PG Profiles in Lightroom by PixelGenius

For cool contact sheets watch Creative Printing by Matt Kloskowski

Finally, for anything print- or color management-related, look at the great learning resources available at the PixelGenius Tutorial page.

Happy Printing!

Keywording in Lightroom–an insider’s tips

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If you’re processing loads of images in Lightroom, you will probably be using loads of keywords. One of the engineers on the Lightroom team, Eric Scouten, has written a really helpful tutorial about keywords in the Lightroom team blog. As you can see in the image above, some of the keywords that are really important to me have to do with colors. One of the tips I liked the best was that he reminded me of the option of importing your keywords from a text file. If you are using a big list of keywords, it’s much easier to type them up in a text file and then import them into Lightroom.

For more info on using keywords, Scott Kelby has a nice tutorial posted on Adobe Design Center. For more info about keyword synonyms, look at this blog entry by Johann Gudbjargarson.  Finally, did you know that you can access Lightroom Help online? Yep! Why would you want to do this? Because it’s live, it is the most up to date version of Help. Also, it allows for comments and questions from the community. Check out the Help pages about Keywording.

What would YOU put in a Moleskine?

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Ever heard of a Moleskine? No—it’s not made from a mole. It’s a pocket-sized notebook that artists, writers, and other creative travelers used to use to make sketches, take notes, or jot down ideas. The books went out of production many years ago but a small Italian publisher began to produce them again in 1998. At this point you are probably asking yourself why a designer from Adobe Systems would be writing about a blank paper book (instead of something digital) in her blog. Two reasons:

1. Inspiration! The Moleskine folks have put on an exhibition of notebooks by 70 different artists, photographers, designers, and architects. Of the ones I looked at, I particularly liked the books by author and artist Dave Eggers, photographers Douglas Kirkland, and Mary-Ellen Mark, graphic designer Paula Scher, fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, illustrator Paul Davis, and icon designer Egon Låstad.

2. To remind myself (and other creatives) that we need to keep sketching and writing—it helps keep our creative juices flowing! It also exercises our creative fingers, eyes, and brains. Drawing what you see forces you to really look at things in different ways. This is always a good thing for creative professionals.

P.S. If you have some really great artwork that you’d like to show in our Gallery on Adobe Design Center, let us know about it here.

InDesign vs. Photoshop? No kidding.

Photoshop Contact Sheet

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InDesign Contact Sheet

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Somebody actually had the idea to pit InDesign’s image editing features against those in Photoshop. Go figure. I guess it makes sense because it really is easier to stay in one application—especially if you need to do something fairly simple. That somebody is one Mike McHugh, and the title of his article is InDesign vs. Photoshop Smackdown: Who Will Be the Winner? It’s on the Peachpit website.

If you haven’t explored that site yet, you should. They have loads of free tutorials and videos. A good place to start is the Reference Guides page. There you’ll find a guide for Photoshop, Flash, Web Design, and Macintosh. These guides are loaded with great instructional materials—videos, articles, and text tutorials. Some of them are for older versions of the software, but that isn’t so bad. Some things don’t change from version to version, and not everybody upgrades right away. I wonder why they don’t have one for Design, Illustration, Illustrator, InDesign, and Acrobat—maybe those are in the works?

Okay, so what did I learn from the InDesign vs. Photoshop Smackdown? I learned that InDesign gives you a much better contact sheet than Photoshop. Mike’s instructions on page 6 of his article have you create your contact sheets starting in Bridge. You can do this for both InDesign and Photoshop. Look for yourself at my results above. The InDesign result is neat, orderly, and legible. Photoshop results are fine but not as nice as InDesign. I started with really long file names which got truncated in Photoshop. InDesign did not cut them off. Also, I can change fonts and layouts in InDesign much easier. I’d say that InDesign definitely wins Round 6!

Don’t miss this photography event

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From Sept. 17-23, 2007, photographers all across America will be submitting their photos to the latest project from the “A Day in the Life…” folks. The project is called America at Home, a Closeup of How We Live. Each day you get a different shooting assignment. The idea is to document the home lives and environments of Americans all over the country for the next 7 days. (Actually it’s only 6 now because I missed the first day—sorry.)

Before you upload your images on their easy-to-use website, don’t forget to fine tune them with Lightroom and/or Photoshop. The before and after image shown above was cropped and color-corrected in Lightroom. For some great tutorials on how to adjust your raw images, see Katrin Eismann’s video on Editing Multiple Images with Camera Raw, or George Jardine’s video on Finding your best photos using Compare and Quick Develop in Lightroom.

Converting to grayscale

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I got back from Photoshop World in Las Vegas last weekend with my head full of great instruction on Photoshop and Lightroom. It was a great show even though I don’t like Las Vegas (too much smoke, mirrors, noise, and glitz.) There are so many beautiful places to have that show on the west coast, I don’t understand why they keep picking Vegas—ick! Anyway, there were some wonderful speakers and presentations despite the location. My favorite teachers in the Lightroom track were Matt Kloskowski and Chris Orwig. I really missed Julieanne Kost and Katrin Eismann. (They are usually at that show but couldn’t make it this time.)

New from my close friend, Russell Brown—some new Photoshop video tutorials that you can see on XTrain’s learning site. Click on the “Go to Free Classes” button and check out the free videos. (You’ll have to register to view the free classes.) Look at Russell’s Black and White Experiments lesson. It’s fun, it’s wacky, and you’ll learn all sorts of ways to convert your photo to grayscale. For those of you who are wanting to learn how to convert to grayscale in Lightroom, look at Matt Kloskowski’s video, “Convert color photos to black-and-white.” Before you convert, read this tip on using the Before and After screens.

Color correcting in Lightroom

Do your landscape photos have the blues? Many of mine do. I was recently on the island of Kauai and visited the beautiful Waimea Canyon. I took several shots there and was disappointed when I came back to see how blue and misty the images looked. That’s not how the canyon looked to me that day!

This often happens when I shoot images that span vast spaces. I suppose it’s a combination of the atmosphere and my camera’s tendency to produce slightly bluish images. I’ll bet you there is someone out there who can tell me the technical reasons for why this occurs in my digital images. But what can you do when this happens? What I do is turn to Lightroom. First, I watched George Jardine’s excellent video on Basic Color Correction, and then proceeded to color correct my image. Look at the before and after images below. The “After” image looks like I remember Waimea Canyon looking—vibrant greens, bright red Kauai dirt, crisp white ribbons of water.

One of the tools I used to correct this image was the Vibrance slider. For a great little tutorial on how to use this tool, see Matt Kloskowski’s video, “Adjust an image’s color using the Vibrance slider.”

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Retouching at its worst (and best)

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Take a look at Nomi Altabef’s blog on designsessions. She analyzes the techniques of an unknown photo retoucher who used Photoshop to transform an image of Faith Hill for a Redbook magazine cover. Amazing! What is it about some retouchers and photographers that make them feel like they need to remake their models into something other than what they are? Why can’t they just remove the dust spots and blemishes and leave the model’s likeness intact? Hear what some magazine editors have to say about it on this Today show segment.

This is my opinion, not necessarily Adobe’s, but I find it disheartening that so many photographers can’t be subtle when it comes to retouching. If you look at the before and after shots of Faith Hill in this article, she’s more real and more beautiful in the “Before” picture. The retouched version presents an emaciated, distorted manikin devoid of character and personality. This retoucher went way too far—hence the award by Jezebel.com for the most egregious example of unrealistic “beauty” standards. They call it the “Photoshop of Horrors”.

Enough about the bad side of retouching. There is plenty of good retouching happening in the world. For a great tutorial on the fine art of retouching, read Portrait Retouching by Katrin Eismann. Katrin also produced a video tutorial on retouching and restoring old photos with Photoshop CS3. If you’re working in Lightroom, check out the Spot Removal tutorial by Sean McCormack. For a nice tip on using the clone tool in Photoshop, look at Matt Kloskowski’s video.

Other links of interest on this topic:

Dove: Evolution

Lightroom or Photoshop for retouching?

We recently received this question from our feedback posts on Adobe Design Center. The person had just watched Matt Kloskowski’s excellent video, “Remove spots from an image in Photoshop Lightroom”:

How do you remove lines, like powerlines and jet contrails, and something like a piece of paper floating on the water? I can’t see how [Lightroom] works for those issues. I find Photoshop much easier to use for this function. Please comment.

My reply to him was:

Thanks for your comment. You are right, Photoshop is the correct tool for the tasks you mentioned. The Remove Spots function in Lightroom is really best for removing dust spots on an image. To do more extensive retouching, you should be using the tools in Photoshop.

For an excellent tutorial on retouching with Photoshop CS3, look at Katrin Eismann’s, “Retouching and repairing photographs”.