By Suzanne Mathia


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.


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

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


By Suzanne Mathia

I was recently asked to judge another photography competition.  Whether it is at a camera, club, an online competition of a fair I always enjoy seeing submitted images from different areas of the country – I am always blown away with the creativity and talent.  I get to see a different range of photography, things I don’t ordinarily see,

images that are totally unexpected, locations that are unusual and perspectives that are unique.

I love to see where people are taking photography, especially the youngsters. (That didn’t make me sound old!) It’s really refreshing and inspiring to see their vision and passion for the craft!

Fran Yates – Best in Show Northern Gila County Fair

Being asked to judge someone else’s art is not an easy task and one I don’t take lightly.  I may take a slightly different approach to this process but I wanted to share some thoughts and observations.

For me the most important part of a photographic image is IMPACT.  That cant be judged purely by the technical aspects.  Some guidelines for the judging process require each image to be awarded points or gold stars based on a long list of technical criteria. Some don’t.

Deborah Burd _First Place Winner

When I look initially at a group or collection of images I am looking for the ones that stand out for me for whatever reason.  Compelling images always stand out from the crowd, rise to the top upon viewing for the first time. That process of doing a visual scan helps me to find some of the best pictures and eliminate others — pictures that are simply “me too” , “same ol same old” or pictures that just fade into the background.

After that initial visual scan, I go in closer and look for WHY.  Why did this image stand out above the rest? That can be subject matter, creativity as well as composition and technique, post processing and presentation, overall excellence. A photograph must convey attention or intent.  I look for an image that is about something not just of something.

Deborah Bird – First Place Winner

One can give points for following all the rules, but often the most memorable images are those that flaunt the normal conventions…with purpose .  I look for creativity, simplicity, emotion, composition and impact. After that I look for exposure, focus and sharpness, tonal separation, framing, leading lines, light and shadow. Are the horizons straight, no intruders along the borders, chromatic aberration, banding, flare, noise and over processing, those are the things that can distract from an otherwise compelling photograph.

Some of the biggest mistakes I see are multiple versions of the same image.  A different crop or a slightly different treatment. It dilutes the originality of one of the images and indicates the photographer was undecided about their vision.

Overuse of HDR and filters, presets and plug ins.  If the category is creative, manipulation or composite this can be fine and a creative use of the available software programs. However, it can be over done and may ruin an otherwise pleasing image.

Over Sharpening- image sharpening is a powerful and necessary tool for emphasizing texture and drawing viewer focus. It’s also required of any digital photo at some point. However, over sharpening can cause that “crunchy” look.

Happily and thankfully, over time, I have seen less and less of these obvious mistakes.

Fran Yates – Best in Class

It is painful to reject a photo. I know I try to find the best in every image. Behind that entry is a photographer who loved making this image, was so proud and so hopeful as well as brave and confident enough to put there work out there. I am very conscious of some of potential biases and preferences and try not to let them cloud or influence my decisions.

I know that not everyone will agree with my choices and some will definitely have differing opinions.  I am OK with that….who am I to judge!? Judges of photo contests have a unique perspective because we see so very many photos. Sometimes the difference between being a finalist in a contest and being rejected comes down to minute differences, personal preferences, innate biases and opinions.

Get your work out there.  Enter contests, submit to publications, have an online presence, participate in art shows , fairs and exhibits. Work hard at your craft and never give up. You may not have won a fist place ribbon this time but keep showing your work and most importantly, love what you do.

Suzanne Mathia is an Instructor with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops

LIGHTROOM CC 2015.4/6.4 released- New Pano Feature

Author: Suzanne Mathia

Adobe CCLightroom CC 2015.4 and Lightroom 6.4 are now available on

This release provides additional camera raw support, lens profile support and address bugs that were introduced in previous releases of Lightroom.

This release also includes a new Boundary Warp feature for Creative Cloud members.

Introducing Boundary Warp

Stitched panoramas often have non-rectangular boundaries. There are several ways to handle irregular boundaries.

  1. Apply a rectangular crop. quick and simple, but important image details near the edges may be lost due to cropping.
  2. Content Aware Fill (in Photoshop) to fill in the transparent areas outside the boundary. This can be effective, but may require multiple attempts to obtain a pleasing result.
  3. Warping – in Photoshop can be complex and you may end up with odd results

Raw images to be stitched

This new feature provides another approach to handling the irregular boundary of panoramas. The feature analyzes the boundary and warps the image so that its edges fit a rectangular frame.  In other words, its all done for you on the fly…quick easy and effective.  ONCE AGAIN THANK YOU LIGHTROOM!


Merged Images


Boundary Warp Applied

Boundary Warp Applied

Processed DNG Pano with Boundary Warp

Processed DNG Pano with Boundary Warp

New Camera Support in Lightroom CC 2015.4 / 6.4
  • Fujifilm X70
  • Fujifilm X-E2S
  • Fujifilm X-Pro2
  • Leica M (Typ 262)
  • Leica X-U (Typ 113)
  • Panasonic DMC-ZS60 (DMC-TZ80, DMC-TZ81, DMC-TZ85)
  • Phase One IQ150
  • Sony ILCA-68 (A68)
Additional Updates in Lightroom CC 2015.4 / 6.4

Suzanne Mathia is an instructor/photographer with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

Ask yourself: “Am I in a groove…or a rut!?”

Author: Suzanne Mathia

Here are some suggestions (a friendly kick in the rear) to get you out of a photographic rut. Bad habits creep up on us all. Just like exercise you cant do the same thing every day and expect different, better results. You have to switch it up, kick it up a notch, get out of the routine, learn something new.

Here’s some suggestions:

Take a great workshop (we have a few suggestions!) Workshops are a great place to sort out problems, learn new techniques, experiment, get exposure to new ideas, practice new methods and get out of your comfort zone for a while under the expert guidance of a dedicated teacher and enthusiastic participants.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable!  Sometimes stretching yourself, both physically and mentally, hurts (so good!).  Get on the ground to get a better perspective.  Hike a few miles to get that great vantage point.  Get outside your comfort zone.  If you’re a landscape shooter, work on some portraits.  If you shoot wildlife, play with macros and abstracts.  Shoot for a whole day with the lens you use the least. Borrow a tilt/shift lens or a macro and learn the possibilities. Find objects around the house and create unusual images. Stretch your creative muscles by cross training!


Learn your camera, every option, every setting.  Leave your camera manual in your bathroom and READ IT (RYFM! google it!).  The more you really know your equipment, the easier you’ll create what you want and the quicker you can react when the conditions change!

Don’t leave a great shot behind.  Don’t “get it on the way back” or think it’s too much trouble. Stop, do the work!

Don’t be lazy. Anyone who’s been on one of my workshops has this ringing in their ears!  Change lenses if the shot calls for it.  Get out your Graduated Neutral Density Filters.  Take off the polarizer if it’s not needed. USE THAT TRIPOD!

Expand your post processing skills with Lightroom and Photoshop, then shoot your images as if neither one of them existed.

Get your files, folders, & drives organized well, and, if you haven’t already, begin the process of easy, productive catalogue and image management using Lightroom.

Review, refine and test your backup strategy: have at least TWO back ups of all your work. I would suggest that one of those be a cloud backup such as BackBlaze or CrashPlan.

Make yourself a project for the year.  Create a collection of work on a single theme.

Create a web gallery for your images.  There are many inexpensive, easy-to-build sites; at the very least post your images on Facebook or Flickr.

Go out and shoot with a small memory card or vow to only take 6 images.  This will slow you down and make you more deliberate in your choices.  Really work the scene and create an image instead of Spray and Pray.

Learn about Focus and Hyperfocal distance.  This one technique, once you understand it and put it into practice, will take your photography to a whole other level.  Check for critical focus on your LCD at 10X magnification with DoF preview while you’re in the field.

Find your Histogram and USE it! The histogram is the most useful but often most misunderstood and ignored tool that your camera provides to help you get the best exposure on your images.


Go back and re-edit some of your old images.  Do some “archive diving”. With your new skills and improved tools, like you will be amazed at the diamonds in the rough you’ll find.


Find someone to give you an honest critique of your work.  Find a professional who will be firm but fair.  All the kudos from your Facebook friends & relatives won’t make you a better photographer.  Someone who will point out the flaws and help you develop a well-edited body of work will.  Warning: it can be painful but it’s an incredible learning process!

Study the work of great photographers, present and past.  Go to the museum, buy the books, browse online.

Go to a Symposium!!!


Don’t give away your work unless it’s for a good cause.  Value your work and the work of others….but remember to…

Give back – Find a non- profit or charity that you can contribute your work or time to.

Have fun (that’s what it’s all about, yes?)!!

Suzanne Mathia is an instructor for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops and a frequent contributor to Arizona Highways and other great publications.

Shooting Fireworks

Fireworks-5Author:  Suzanne Mathia

In celebration of our upcoming 117th Independence Day, we are reposting this great “how to” blog on shooting fireworks.

Fourth of July is right around the corner.  With the advent of digital photography, photographing fireworks has become easy and fun, just by following some basic steps. With a little planning and a bit a practice you can get some truly spectacular and creative images
Here’s how to do it:

A little planning goes a long way.

Take a little time before the show to scout the location. Determine where the fireworks will be launched and then try to find a clear, unobstructed view. You don’t want to be in the middle of a crowd, with people wandering in front of the camera or bumping into your tripod. Avoid any other light sources such as streetlights to avoid the possibility of light flare. Watch out for tree branches and electrical wires that can sneak into your composition.

Be aware of smoke. If you can figure out which direction the wind will be blowing then try to position yourself upwind so the smoke will blow away from you. Smoke will really light up with the bursts, and if it’s between you and the fireworks then your photos will suffer and look…well smokey!.

Put the camera on tripod. Use a cable release or remote control so there will be no movement when you open theFireworks-2 shutter. You want your camera to be as solid as a rock during the long exposures necessary for fireworks photography otherwise the smooth paths of light the fireworks create will appear jagged blurrey and messy.

Orient the camera on the tripod vertically as opposed the horizontal landscape orientation as this gives a better composition as the fireworks soar vertically into the sky.

Set the lens to manual focus and set it to the ∞ (infinity) mark. (Take a small flashlight with you so you can see your camera controls after dark)

Set the camera on “B” or “Bulb.” When you press the shutter, or cable release the camera opens to light, and stays open until you release it.  You have full control over how long an exposure you get.

Shoot at the lowest ISO for the best results. 100 for Canon, 200 for Nikon. (Turn off ISO AUTO if you have it) you want a nice long exposure with as little digital noise as possible.

Start with an aperture opening of f8 or f11 and f 16.  These seem to work well for fireworks photography. The type of lens you choose will depend on your proximity to the show but generally a good telephoto zoom will give you the most flexibility.  I use a 24 -105 mm. However, if you are really far from the action a longer lens can work beautifully.

Fireworks-9All set up and ready to go…take some test shots of the first fireworks. Open the shutter at the first burst. Hold it open several seconds, until that burst is finished.  See how it looks.  Try different lengths of time and find the speed that you like best. Then hold it open longer and allow several bursts to appear in one shot. Leaving the shutter open for multiple bursts makes it look like they all went off at the same time and can look spectacular.  However, there’s a limit, leaving the shutter open for too long and too many bursts may end up in overexposed areas and too much confusion so strike a happy medium.

Another trick is to have a small piece of black cardboard with you.  Take an exposure through one burst, cover up the front of your lens with the black cardboard then take it off when the next one goes off. You can get some amazing “multiple exposures” with this method.

Look at your shots in the LCD and check your histogram.  You may need to open up or close down your f stop or increase or decrease how long you leave the shutter open.  Try different lengths of exposures throughout the evening.  There will be lots of busts and plenty of opportunities to get it just right.Fireworks-10

If the fireworks aren’t bright enough open up you f stop (f8 instead of f11) the brightness of the burst does not vary by the amount of time the shutter is open.  If the Sky is looking too bright then decrease the amount of time the shutter is open.  The sky or ambient light is what is affected by shutter speed. Although this is very easy fix in post-processing (photoshop or Elements) by increasing the Darks or changing the black point in your image.

Now you have the shots you want , get creative and think outside the box. Add foreground elements to your composition.  People, a bridge, children staring skyward.  Silhouettes of the onlookers to give a sense of location to your picture. Look for reflections in buildings or in lakes or pools. Look for the little details that make this day memorable. Now you can also throw out the “rules” Move your camera during the shot for an interesting effect.  Zoom in or out as the fireworks go off. Use flash to light up the foreground. Turn your camera horizontally. Be creative, experiment and most of all have fun!

Have a Safe & Fun 4th of July

Suzanne Mathia is an Arizona Highways Photo Workshop instructor, a certified Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom expert and a frequent contributor to Arizona Highways Magazine.

What’s New in Adobe Lightroom CC

by Suzanne MathiaLR1

With the release of the newest version of Lightroom this morning I have been inundated with requests for information and updates. I will know more later today and will put all the new tools and enhancements through their paces.

Our upcoming Lightroom classes will be sure to include all these great new features.

What we think we know:

Lightroom CC is available as part of an Adobe Creative Cloud Photography subscription ($9.99 per month) or as the equivalent standalone $149 perpetual-license Lightroom 6 application. But the single purchase option won’t include syncing photos to Adobe’s mobile apps, such as Lightroom Mobile, Slate, and Voice. Adobe uses a smaller-footprint version of the photo file called Smart Preview for transmitting to Web and devices, so bandwidth and storage aren’t taxed unnecessarily.

Panorama – HDR – Face Recognition


Aside from some heavy duty lifting such as luminosity masks, layers, blending and content aware cloning and healing most of the trips to Photoshop were for Panorama stitching and blending multiple exposures – 32 bit image processing. Now they will be included inside Lightroom along with Face recognition

A video preview of Face Recognition
LR3I don’t have much use for this feature but I know a lot of people will like this. Come out with Bird or flower or rock recognition then we’ll be talking!
The Photo/Merge menu is where you access two more new tools: HDR and Panorama.

HDR Tool
Lightroom now lets you combine under- and overexposed versions of the same photo for a balanced result.

Adjustment/Refining brushes for the Graduated and Radial Filters

LR7You can fine tune and make local adjustments to gradients and the radial filter YEA!!!!!



You will now be able to time slide transitions to music and have Pan and Zoom effects



The most welcome update is the new improved speed up – up to 1000% faster?? That I would love to see.

One of the features touted in the listing is “performance gains” introduced by leveraging compatible graphics.
In other words, it seems the new version of the program will finally make use of your computer’s GPU (graphics processing unit) for faster performance, especially when editing photos using the Develop module.

Thats all I have for now – I will be downloading and playing with all these new features in the next few days and will post updates. I would love to hear your opinions, comments and little tricks you find.

B&H is offering $20.00 off the annual subscription fee for 2 days!

Suzanne Mathia is a certified Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop expert, an AHPW instructor and a frequent contributor to Arizona Highways magazine.