Adobe Lightroom – Using the New Range Mask Feature

By Megan P Galope

Have you ever tried using a graduated filter to make the sky darker, but in the process it also darkens the mountains? Trying to then remove the mountains from the filter was a tedious task. No more! Adobe Lightroom has recently added a new feature to the filters and adjustment brush called “Range Mask”, which makes these tools more precise and easy to use. Here is a typical image where the foreground is the correct exposure but the sky is too bright.

After adding a graduated filter, the sky looks good, but unfortunately, the foreground is darkened as well:

At the bottom of the graduated filter toolbox, you’ll now see an option for “Range Mask” (this assumes you have the latest version of Lightroom). Click where it says “Off”, and you’ll get a drop-down with a couple options. Choose the “Color” option.

Next, click on the eye dropper tool to the left of the Range Mask option, and then click and drag in the sky to draw a box around the different colors in the sky (in this case, I drew a box that includes both the blue sky and the clouds). You want to choose the colors that you want to be affected by the graduated filter.

Notice the small square in the upper right

Once you draw the box and let go, voila! The sky is darker but the foreground hasn’t been affected by the filter:

Truth be told, sometimes this works better than others. If it doesn’t work the first time, you can try drawing the Range Mask box again in a different spot, or make it larger or smaller. You can also draw multiple boxes to sample different colors by holding down the shift key while drawing another box. If you want to delete a box, hold down the Alt (Windows)/Opt (Mac) key (the mouse will turn into a scissors icon) and click on the Range Mask dropper marker that you would like to delete.

The Range Mask feature is available for both the graduated filter and radial filter as well as the adjustment brush.

Megan P Galope is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

Twitter = @megangalope                                                                                                                    mapphotography.smugmug.com

RAW VS. JPG, ENHANCING COLOR

By Vicki Uthe

I spent last spring break in Panama with my beautiful wife Ellen. I have nearly two thousand images to sort through and I hope you are as excited to see them as I am to share them.

I’m going to begin this blog with where we left off in Panama, on the San Blas Islands of the Guna Yala, an indigenous tribe in Panama’s Caribbean Sea.

When I first downloaded the images I was extremely disappointed that I wasn’t able to capture the true color of the blue green water surrounding the islands.  And then I figured it out. In Lightroom, in the Develop module, right below Basic, is a tab marked HSL / Color / B&W.  I clicked on that, scrolled down to Saturation, clicked on the little cross to the left, took it over a color I wanted to enhance and wah-lah! saturated colors! MUCH more like the colors we experienced on the islands, even with cloudy skies.

This is the image after I worked on it.

Here is another before/after example with the beach, palm trees, water and sky.

The following images all were enhanced using the same tool. You also have a choice of enhancing the Hue and Luminance, all of which can give you results closer to what you actually saw.

I know I spent the few days we had on these islands pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

The colors were so amazing and vibrant. I was so glad and relieved to discover I could convey those colors in my images.

In order to do this, though, you have to shoot in RAW, not JPG. As one of my favorite photographers puts it, imagine you have a bucket of pixels and information (that’s RAW) as opposed to a cup. That’s JPG. RAW gives you much more latitude when it comes to post processing your images. It will also use up more of your memory card so be sure to use big enough ones that you won’t run out on a shoot.

There are other post processing softwares out there, I happen to use Lightroom for organizing and post processing.

Don’t be scared, switch that camera to RAW and give yourself more creative options when post processing your fabulous images.

Happy Shooting!!

Vicki Uthe is a Volunteer Photo Guide with Arizona Highways PhotoScapes

THE NEW LIGHTROOM “ECO-SYSTEM”

By Suzanne Mathia

LIGHTROOM CLASSIC – LIGHTROOM CC

Lots of changes announced this week and confusion, worry and misinformation are rampant.  This happens with any new changes.  We all get very comfy with the familiar and resist change vehemently.

At the same time we have also been complaining loudly about the speed of importing, culling and developing inside the current model.  Adobe listened, and have drastically improved the speed of the interface while giving us some great new tools.  They also added an entirely new platform to the Lightroom “Eco-System” By separating the two products, they are allowing Lightroom Classic to focus on the strengths of a file/folder based workflow, while Lightroom CC addresses the cloud/mobile-oriented workflow.” The new names are: LIGHTROOM CLASSIC and LIGHTROOM CC

I have been working with the upgrade and I am ecstatic with the improvements.

“Lightroom Classic CC is designed for desktop-based (file/folder) digital photography workflows. It’s a well-established workflow solution that is distinct and separate from the new cloud-native service.  For professional photographers who want all the Lightroom Classic capabilities to support their own very specific workflows as they are now.Your Lightroom is now called Lightroom Classic.

HUGE IMPROVEMENTS!!

Speed – reviewing and culling with the speed and efficiency of programs like  Photomechanic or On One browse because Lightroom now uses use the imbedded jpg for fast loading. When you select the Embedded & Sidecar previews option, you can scroll through a large set of images quickly in the Library module and also perform 1:1 zoom quicker. The rendering of Embedded previews is prioritized based on the folder you are viewing. For example, if you import and add images to multiple folders, you can immediately begin scrolling through the images as they get added.

TIP: on import select Embedded and Sidecar for best performance

Performance and stability enhancements

  Enhanced in this release of Lightroom Classic CC 

  •     Application loading time
  •     Catalog upgrade and compression upon import and export
  •     Faster import with Minimal, Standard, 1:1 Previews
  •     Faster image selection upon import with Embedded Previews.
  •     Smart Preview generation
  •     Switching from Library to Develop module
  •     Rendering of images in Library and Develop modules
  •     Scrolling through images in Library and Develop modules
  •     Improved brushing and slider movements
  •     Deleting Collections
  •     Loading of faces in the People view

Bigger standard previews – wide of monitor default – was 2000 pixels now 3840

Export metadata without camera settings option – You can export All except camera raw info if desired.

  • Fine control over selections with Color and Luminance Range Masking tools.
  • Auto-masking with better noise reduction by updating to Process Version 4 (Current) under Camera Calibration
  • Filter Criteria in Smart Collections: Title – Is Empty or Not Empty and Lens Profile – Applied or Not applied
  • Metadata preset for the export dialog – All Except Camera Raw Info. This helps you to conceal the settings or changes you had made from being exported.
  • Filter Criteria in the Import dialog – File Type. This helps you to quickly remove certain file types if needed.
  • Better handling of multiple batches of merge operations (HDR/ Pano) improving GUI response
  • Preview generation of recently edited images (in last 2 days) during idle system state. This is applicable for Batch Editing use case, using Sync Edit functionality.

Color Range Mask

After making an initial selection mask on your photo with Adjustment Brushes or Radial Filter/Graduated Filters, use Color Range Masking to refine the selection mask based on the colors sampled within the mask area.

Luminance Range Mask

After making an initial selection mask on your photo with Adjustment Brushes or Radial Filter/Graduated Filters, use Luminance Range Masking to refine the mask area based on the luminance range of the selection.

Smoothness = feathering                                     Click and drag eye dropper for color range

So far I am absolutely loving the import interface speed and the new masking features are a real game changer!

For most users and those happy with the current system – no need to adopt the cloud based version at this time.

STOP HERE…..Update and be happy

For those interested in the Cloud Based system

No folders – date based that you don’t control

Sensei keywords – content search

Image analysis capabilities will continue to improve

Manage across any device at any location

Version 1.0 now

No pano or hdr

No curves

Get to know new LRcc first – Take for a test drive using duplicate copies

DOWNLOAD A PDF COMPARISON Comparison chart and additional info from Victoria Brampton – The Lightroom Queen
https://www.lightroomqueen.com/lightroom-cc-vs-classic-features/

Eventually, I may end up using a hybrid of both systems but primarily I am a desktop user and for now I’m just using the new and greatly improved CLASSIC!

If you have any questions or constructive comments, please let me know.

Suzanne Mathia is an Instructor with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops

Has software eliminated the need for filters in the field?

By Becky Chapman

When I started in photography, the in-camera exposure was one of the most critical aspects of the image. Now when I am out in the field shooting with other photographers, I hear “it doesn’t have to be a perfect exposure, you can always clean it up in post” all the time. So, the question arises, how perfect does the exposure need to be to make a beautiful image?

It used to be “processing time” was bringing the film to be developed. Now we are spending countless hours at the computer tweaking an image to get it right after the fact. The fact is that filters played a very big role in getting the exposure correct in camera and we spent our time in the field picking the right filters, adjusting exposure and figuring out what was needed to get it right. Since we can now achieve the same results with the software available, who wants to take all that time in the field?

You can certainly add creative filters in post, including colored filters, star filters, graduated neutral density filters and other compensating filters that we once had to use at the time of the shoot. There is still a lot to be said for getting it right in camera. Using a graduated neutral density filter in the field may keep you from having to shoot several frames for a HDR image. Using a color enhancing filter at sunset can give stunning results without having to play with it on the computer and it is very satisfying to get a fantastic image with minimal post effort.

There are still some filters that are an absolute must to have in your camera bag, especially if you are shooting landscape images. The first being a polarizing filter. When you are shooting any water images, a polarizer is crucial to remove the reflections and glare from the surface of the water. There is no amount of post processing you can do to remove a reflection from a stream when you are trying to get the detail of the rocks below the surface. That is something that, at the time of this writing, is simply not available once the image is shot.

A neutral density (solid) is also a must in my bag. If you are shooting a waterfall on a bright, sunny day, you are going to have a very hard time getting the water to get the beautiful wispy look you want even with the ISO dropped as far as possible with the fstop all the way down. ND filters also allow for very interesting cloud movement shots that are simply not possible as a single shot in camera.

I do like to have a split ND filter as well, although it is becoming less frequently used due to some limitations. With a graduated ND, you have the linear separation (even if it is graduated) and very often, your scene does not have a linear separation. If you are shooting a straight horizon, like at the beach shooting the ocean sunset, it is fine. If you are in the mountains or shooting a skyline, the linear nature of the filter is limiting. HRD processing is getting so much cleaner and less “crunchy” now, so that will typically be my choice in those situations.

When it comes down to the absolute musts, to me, the polarizer and the ND filters are the only ones I HAVE to have with me at all times. Creative filters are falling by the wayside as better software is released with the same effects that can not only be turned on, but also turned off if you decide you don’t need or want them. It is very easy to add color, starbursts, soft focus rings, and countless other creative effects. I will, however, continue to carry my filter systems in my bag to be used in the situations where software will just not cut it.

Whether you choose to use a filter in the field is a very personal choice. I still see people using them, but it is much less frequent than in the days of film and darkroom processing. So, if you are feeling nostalgic and want to see how it “used to be”, grab some filters and start playing!

This is the image directly OOC with only sharpening applied

This image had a graduated ND filter added in LightRoom added diagonally from the top left.

This is the same shot with the graduated ND filter, but also some of the local adjustments with the brushes and a graduated ND from the bottom right to increase the exposure in the rocks.

As you can see, the last image has addressed several issues with the original exposure that a simple ND filter on the lens would not have been able to address. This is a situation where an added filter on camera would simply not do the job that editing software can address.

Photo processing software is getting more powerful and can do many more things now that it could even a year ago. Who knows what is coming and what will be available to us in the future. For now, I will keep my polarizer and ND filters on hand and let the software address mostly everything else.

Becky Chapman is a trip leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

How I Got the Shot – Poppies under the Blazing Arizona Sun

Author: Ambika Balasubramaniyan

Settings:

  • Camera: Canon 5DMIII
  • Lens: Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8 II USM
  • Settings: Av (Aperture Priority)1/40 sec, f22, ISO 100, 16mm
  • Filter: None

Location: Bartlett Lake, Arizona

  • This location in Arizona typically explodes with poppies mid-late March if the rain and temperature conditions are conducive to good bloom. In March 2017, the steady moisture over winter delivered a great bloom year for the poppies. In other years, when the rain is inconsistent over winter – there may be very few poppies. Another note, you also find some white & orange poppies here in addition to the yellowish-orange kind!
  • Location guide: Wild in Arizona™: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers, A Guide to When, Where, & How(Expanded 2nd Edition) by Paul Gill & Colleen Miniuk-Sperry Location #25 Page 102

Vision: An above average heat made for a blazing hot March and I wanted to capture the contrast of the delicate poppies under the blazing Arizona sun – a juxtaposition of hot and cool. I wanted to feature the sun as an integral part of the image in addition to using light the highlight the delicate poppy petals.

Image Capture: I wanted to showcase the sun along with poppies feature the mid-morning sun – higher up in the sky rather than the typical sunrise – on the horizon treatment. I wanted the image to convey “hot” and showcase the sun loving poppies reaching up to soak up the rays. I also included a bit of the surrounding hills to set context. The image capture was set up was with the Canon 16 – 35 mm lens for the wide angle treatment, shooting upwards from below the clump of poppies on a roadside berm to emphasize the poppies reaching up towards the sun. Aperture was set to f22 to include the sun as a “sunburst” in the composition. The small aperture at f22 on the Canon 16-35mm f2.8 II USM wide angle lens generates a pleasing starburst.  I also intentionally under exposed the image to ensure a sharp “sunstar” with a workable image that was not over exposed. Remember to remove ALL filters in front of your lens to minimize any lens flare. You may still get some lens flare from the internal elements of the lens but you can do your part in minimizing them!

If you are interested in learning more about sun bursts & different lens that make good ones: https://www.outdoorphotographyguide.com/article/how-to-create-a-starburst-effect/.

Post Processing: Images were post processed in Lightroom CC minimally – some cropping, opening up of the shadows, pop of clarity & saturation in Lightroom.  Some of the lens flare artifacts were also cloned out to clean up the sun.

The key post processing move for this image is the opening up of the shadows that show cases the color of the poppies against the blue sky!

Ambika is a Trip Leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops

Rainy Day Photography

By Sara Goodnick

If your vacation comes with a few days of rain, look at it as a creativity challenge to your photography!

We often visit Hawaii in the winter and every few years we will get some rainy days. Knowing this, I come prepared.

Gear:

  1. Rain-proof cover for camera, camera bag, and me.
  2. Macro lens and/or extension tubes.
  3. Sandals or river shoes.
  4. Clothing in which I can comfortably sit on the ground, scramble over rocks, kneel, and otherwise contort myself.
  5. Tripod
  6. Portable flash unit
  7. Laptop and Bamboo Wacom Tablet

Keeping an open mind, I will stroll around the hotel grounds scouting for macro subjects as my first choice, then landscapes. Just being present mentally and taking note of the surroundings can be a fun treasure hunt. Then I drive around to areas of interesting weather. Coaxing a spouse or family member to be my photo assistant is very helpful. Someone with an umbrella over my camera and me is a luxury!

When back in the room, I have fun in Lightroom and Photoshop with presets and plug-ins. Unless shooting for publications that require straightforward photography with minimal manipulation, freedom reigns. I use Color Effects Pro, Topaz, David Kingham, and Life After Photoshop, and Photomorphis to entertain myself and maybe create some keepers. Gray, rainy days are a fantastic excuse to relax, expand and explore your creativity. Have fun!

 

1

Wet flower petal found on patio

Reflection in a puddle.

Reflection in a puddle.

 

 

 

 

Found feather on a bench

Found feather on a bench

 

 

 

Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea

 

 

 

Landscape with clouds and fog on the Big Island of Hawaii

Landscape with clouds and fog on the Big Island of Hawaii

 

Sara is a Trip Leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops

Revisit Your Old Photos

Author Beth Ruggiero-York

While culling images last week, I began to see potential in some of my older images that I had discounted long ago but never deleted. So I started looking at the old images with a new eye, an eye that has evolved and grown over the years.

I encourage you to do this exercise – go back over your mages by year or subject, depending on how you organize your catalog. Flag photos that strike you as having potential with reprocessing. Put all the ‘potential’ images in a collection or folder, reset any edits you may have made back to the beginning, and start over with the editing process.

There may be many images you don’t even remember taking, and some you remember but had already discredited. No matter how many years later you are looking at these images, you have learned new processing techniques and skills, as well as new software or plug-ins. In addition, your understanding of composition will have grown, and your own aesthetic preferences will have evolved.

So take the time to give some of those old photos a second chance, and I promise you will find a few hidden gems!

Here are a few that I resurrected and reprocessed.


  Whether you crop differently, convert to black and white, enhance the colors or clouds, or try different presets in Lightroom or another program, give it a try if you see some potential in an image. 

Beth Ruggiero-York teaches workshops for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.