Image Sharpening

Image Sharpening and Raw Conversion.

A lot of people imagine that there is some sort of ‘magic bullet’ method for sharpening images.

Well, here’s the bad news – there isn’t !

Even if you shoot the same camera and lens combo at the same settings all the time, your images will exhibit an array of various properties.

And those properties, and the ratio/mix thereof, can, and will, effect the efficacy of various sharpening methods and techniques.

And, those properties will rarely be the same from shoot to shoot.

Add interchangeable lenses, varied lighting conditions, and assorted scene brightness and contrast ranges to the mix – now the range of image properties has increased exponentially.

What are the properties of an image that can determine your approach to sharpening?

I’m not even going to attempt to list them all here, because that would be truly frightening for you.

But sharpening is all about pixels, edges and contrast.  And our first ‘port of call’ with regard to all three of those items is ‘demosaicing’ and raw file conversion.

“But Andy, surely the first item should be the lens” I here you say.

No, it isn’t.

And if that were the case, then we would go one step further than that, and say that it’s the operators ability to focus the lens!

So we will take it as a given, that the lens is sharp, and the operator isn’t quite so daft as they look!

Now we have a raw file, taken with a sharp lens and focused to perfection.

Let’s hand that file to two raw converters, Lightroom and Raw Therapee:

LrFtS 600x338 Image Sharpening

I am Lightroom – Click me!

RTFtS 600x338 Image Sharpening

I am Raw Therapee – Click me!

In both raw converters there is ZERO SHARPENING being applied. (and yes, I know the horizon is ‘wonky’!).

Now check out the 800% magnification shots:

Lr800 600x338 Image Sharpening

Lightroom at 800% – Click me!

RT800 600x338 Image Sharpening

Raw Therapee at 800% – Click me!

What do we see on the Lightroom shot at 800%?

A sharpening halo, but hang on, there is NO sharpening being applied.

But in Raw Therapee there is NO halo.

The halo in Lightroom is not a sharpening halo, but a demosaicing artifact that LOOKS like a sharpening halo.

It is a direct result of the demosaicing algorithm that Lightroom uses.

Raw Therapee on the other hand, has a selection of demosaicing algorithms to choose from.  In this instance, it’s using its default AMaZE (Alias Minimization & Zipper Elimination) algorithm.  All told, there are 10 different demosaic options in RT, though some of them are a bit ‘old hat’ now.

There is no way of altering the base demosaic in Lightroom – it is something of a fixed quantity.  And while it works in an acceptable manner for the majority of shots from an ever burgeoning mass of digital camera sensors, there will ALWAYS be exceptions.

Let’s call a spade a bloody shovel and be honest – Lightrooms demosaicing algorithm is in need of an overhaul.  And why something we have to pay for uses a methodology worse than something we get for free, God only knows.

It’s a common problem in Lightroom, and it’s the single biggest reason why, for example, landscape exposure blends using luminosity masks fail to work quite as smoothly as you see demonstrated on the old Tube of You.

If truth be told – and this is only my opinion – Lightroom is by no means the best raw file processor in existence today.

I say that with a degree of reservation though, because:

  1. It’s very user friendly
  2. It’s an excellent DAM (digital asset management) tool, possibly the best.
  3. On the surface, it only shows its problems with very high contrast edges.

As a side note, my Top 4 raw converters/processors are:

  1. Iridient Developer
  2. Raw Therapee
  3. Capture One Pro
  4. Lightroom

Iridient is expensive and complex – but if you shoot Fuji X-Trans you are crazy if you don’t use it.

Raw Therapee is very complex (and slightly ‘clunky’ on Mac OSX) but it is very good once you know your way around it. And it’s FREEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

Iridient and RT have zero DAM capability that’s worth talking about.

Capture One Pro is a better raw converter on the whole than Lightroom, but it’s more complex, and its DAM structure looks like it was created by crack-smoking monkeys when you compare it to the effective simplicity of Lightroom.

If we look at Lightroom as a raw processor (as opposed to raw converter) it encourages the user to employ ‘recovery’ in shadow and highlight areas.

Using BOTH can cause halos along high contrast edges, and edges where high frequency detail sits next to very low frequency detail of a contrasting colour – birds in flight against a blue sky spring to mind.

Why do I keep ‘banging on’ about edges?

Because edges are critical – and most of you guys ‘n gals hardly ever look at them close up.

All images contain areas of high and low frequency detail, and these areas require different process treatments, if you want to obtain the very best results AND want to preserve the ability to print.

Cleanly defined edges between these areas allow us to use layer masks to separate these areas in an image, and obtain the selective control.

Clean inter-tonal boundaries also allow us to separate shadows, various mid tone ranges, and highlights for yet more finite control.

Working on 16 bit images (well, 15 bit plus 1 level if truth be told) means we can control our adjustments in Photoshop within a range of 32,768 tones.  And there is no way in hell that localised adjustments in Lightroom can be carried out to that degree of accuracy – fact.

I’ll let you in to a secret here!  You all watch the wrong stuff on YouTube!  You sit and watch a video by God knows what idiot, and then wonder why what you’ve just seen them do does NOT work for you.

That’s because you’ve not noticed one small detail – 95% of the time they are working on jpegs!  And jpegs only have a tonal range of 256.  It’s really easy to make luminosity selections etc on such a small tonal range work flawlessly.  You try the same settings on a 16 bit image and they don’t work.

So you end up thinking it’s your fault – your image isn’t as ‘perfect’ as theirs – wrong!

It’s a tale I hear hundreds of times every year when I have folk on workshops and 1to1 tuition days.  And without fail, they all wish they’d paid for the training instead of trying to follow the free stuff.

You NEVER see me on a video working with anything but raw files and full resolution 16 bit images.

My only problem is that I don’t ‘fit into’ today’s modern ‘cult of personality’!

Most adjustments in Lightroom have a global effect.  Yes, we have range masks and eraser brushes.  But they are very poor relations of the pixel-precise control you can have in Photoshop.

Lightroom is – in my opinion of course – becoming polluted by the ‘one stop shop, instant gratification ideology’ that seems to pervade photography today.

Someone said to me the other day that I had not done a YouTube video on the new range masking option in Lightroom.  And they are quite correct.


Because it’s a gimmick – and real crappy one at that, when compared to what you can do in Photoshop.

Photoshop is the KING of image manipulation and processing.  And that is a hard core, irrefutable fact.  It has NO equal.

But Photoshop is a raster image editor, which means it needs to be fed a diet of real pixels.  Raw converters like Lightroom use ‘virtual pixels’ – in a manner of speaking.

And of course, Lightroom and the CameraRaw plug in for Photoshop amount to the same thing.  So folk who use either Lightroom or Photoshop EXCLUSIVELY are both suffering from the same problems – if they can be bothered to look for them.

It Depends on the Shot

shots1 600x301 Image Sharpening

The landscape image is by virtue, a low ISO, high resolution shot with huge depth of field, and bags of high frequency inter-tonal detail that needs sharpening correctly to its very maximum.  We don’t want to sharpen the sky, as it’s sharp enough through depth of field, as is the water, and we require ZERO sharpening artifacts, and no noise amplification.

If we utilise the same sharpening workflow on the center image, then we’ll all get our heads kicked in!  No woman likes to see their skin texture sharpened – in point of fact we have to make it even more unsharp, smooth and diffuse in order to avoid a trip to our local A&E department.

The cheeky Red Squirrel requires a different approach again.  For starters, it’s been taken on a conventional ‘wildlife camera’ – a Nikon D4.  This camera sensor has a much lower resolution than either of the camera sensors used for the previous two shots.

It is also shot from a greater distance than the foreground subjects in either of the preceding images.  And most importantly, it’s at a far higher ISO value, so it has more noise in it.

All three images require SELECTIVE sharpening.  But most photographers think that global sharpening is a good idea, or at least something they can ‘get away with’.

If you are a photographer who wants to do nothing else but post to Facebook and Flickr then you might as well stop reading this post.  Good luck to you and enjoy your photography,  but everything you read in this post, or anywhere on this blog, is not for you.

But if you want to maximize the potential of your thousands of pounds worth of camera gear, and print or sell your images, then I hate to tell you, but you are going to have to LEARN STUFF.

Photoshop is where the magic happens.

As I said earlier, Photoshop is a raster image processor.  As such, it needs to be fed an original image that is of THE UTMOST QUALITY.  By this I mean a starting raw file that has been demosaiced and normalized to:

  1. Contain ZERO demosaic artifacts of any kind.
  2. Have the correct white and black points – in other words ZERO blown highlights or blocked shadows.  In other words, getting contrast under control.
  3. Maximize the midtones to tease out the highest amount of those inter-tonal details, because this is where your sharpening is going to take place.
  4. Contain no more sharpening than you can get away with, and certainly NOT the amount of sharpening you require in the finished image.

With points 1 thru 3 the benefits should be fairly obvious to you, but if you think about it for a second, the image described is rather ‘flattish – looking’.

But point 4 is somewhat ambiguous.  What Adobe-philes like to call capture or input sharpening is very dependent on three variables:

  1. Sensor megapixels
  2. Demosaic effeciency
  3. Sharpening method – namely Unsharp Mask or Deconvolution

The three are inextricably intertwined – so basically it’s a balancing act.

To learn this requires practice!

And to that end I’m embarking on the production of a set of videos that will help you get to grips with the variety of sharpening techniques that I use, and why I use them.

I’ll give you fair warning now – when finished it will be neither CHEAP nor SHORT, but it will be very instructive!

I want to get it to you as soon as possible, but you wouldn’t believe how long tuition videos take to produce.  So right now I’m going to say it should be ready at the end of February or early March.

Hopefully I’ve given you a few things to think about in this post.

Don’t forget, I provide 1to1 and group tuition days in this and all things photography related.

And just in case you’ve missed it, here’s a demo of how useful Photoshop Smart Sharpen can be:


Photoshop View Magnification

View Magnification in Photoshop

A few days ago I uploaded a video to my YouTube channel explaining PPI and DPI – you can see that HERE .

But there is way more to pixel per inch (PPI) resolution values than just the general coverage I gave it in that video.

And this post is about a major impact of PPI resolution that seems to have evaded the understanding and comprehension of perhaps 95% of Photoshop users – and Lightroom users too for that matter.

I am talking about image view magnification, and the connection this has to your monitor.

Let’s make a new document in Photoshop:

Screen Shot 2017 12 22 at 10.05.20 1 Photoshop View Magnification

We’ll make the new document 5 inches by 4 inches, 300ppi:

Screen Shot 2017 12 22 at 10.05.48 600x338 Photoshop View Magnification

I want you to do this yourself, then get a plastic ruler – not a steel tape like I’ve used…..

Make sure you are viewing the new image at 100% magnification, and that you can see your Photoshop rulers along the top and down the left side of the workspace – and right click on one of the rulers and make sure the units are INCHES.

Take your plastic ruler and place it along the upper edge of your lower monitor bezel – not quite like I’ve done in the crappy GoPro still below:

GOPR0012 600x364 Photoshop View Magnification

Yes, my 5″ long image is in reality 13.5 inches long on the display!

The minute you do this, you may well get very confused!

Now then, the length of your 5×4 image, in “plastic ruler inches” will vary depending on the size and pixel pitch of your monitor.

Doing this on a 13″ MacBook Pro Retina the 5″ edge is actually 6.875″ giving us a magnification factor of 1.375:1

On a 24″ 1920×1200 HP monitor the 5″ edge is pretty much 16″ long giving us a magnification factor of 3.2:1

And on a 27″ Eizo ColorEdge the 5″ side is 13.75″ or there abouts, giving a magnification factor of 2.75:1

The 24″ HP monitor has a long edge of not quite 20.5 inches containing 1920 pixels, giving it a pixel pitch of around 94ppi.

The 27″ Eizo has a long edge of 23.49 inches containing 2560 pixels, giving it a pixel pitch of 109ppi – this is why its magnification factor is less then the 24″ HP.

And the 13″ MacBook Pro Retina has a pixel pitch of 227ppi – hence the magnification factor is so low.

So WTF Gives with 1:1 or 100% View Magnification Andy?

Well, it’s simple.

The greatest majority of Ps users ‘think’ that a view magnification of 100% or 1:1 gives them a view of the image at full physical size, and some think it’s a full ppi resolution view, and they are looking at the image at 300ppi.

WRONG – on BOTH counts !!

A 100% or 1:1 view magnification gives you a view of your image using ONE MONITOR or display PIXEL to RENDER ONE IMAGE PIXEL  In other words the image to display pixel ratio is now 1:1

So at a 100% or 1:1 view magnification you are viewing your image at exactly the same resolution as your monitor/display – which for the majority of desk top users means sub-100ppi.

Why do I say that?  Because the majority of desk top machine users run a 24″, sub 100ppi monitor – Hell, this time last year even I did!

When I view a 300ppi image at 100% view magnification on my 27″ Eizo, I’m looking at it in a lowly resolution of 109ppi.  With regard to its properties such as sharpness and inter-tonal detail, in essence, it looks only 1/3rd as good as it is in reality.

Hands up those who think this is a BAD THING.

Did you put your hand up?  If you did, then see me after school….

It’s a good thing, because if I can process it to look good at 109ppi, then it will look even better at 300ppi.

This also means that if I deliberately sharpen certain areas (not the whole image!) of high frequency detail until they are visually right on the ragged edge of being over-sharp, then the minuscule halos I might have generated will actually be 3 times less obvious in reality.

Then when I print the image at 1440, 2880 or even 5760 DOTS per inch (that’s Epson stuff), that print is going to look so sharp it’ll make your eyeballs fall to bits.

And that dpi print resolution, coupled with sensible noise control at monitor ppi and 100% view magnification, is why noise doesn’t print to anywhere near the degree folk imagine it will.

This brings me to a point where I’d like to draw your attention to my latest YouTube video:

Did you like that – cheeky little trick isn’t it!

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

If I process on a Retina display at over 200ppi resolution, I have a two-fold problem:

  • 1. I don’t have as big a margin or ‘fudge factor’ to play with when it comes to things like sharpening.
  • 2. Images actually look sharper than they are in reality – my 13″ MacBook Pro is horrible to process on, because of its excessive ppi and its small dimensions.

Seriously, if you are a stills photographer with a hankering for the latest 4 or 5k monitor, then grow up and learn to understand things for goodness sake!

Ultra-high resolution monitors are valid tools for video editors and, to a degree, stills photographers using large capacity medium format cameras.  But for us mere mortals on 35mm format cameras, they can actually ‘get in the way’ when it comes to image evaluation and processing.

Working on a monitor will a ppi resolution between the mid 90’s and low 100’s at 100% view magnification, will always give you the most flexible and easy processing workflow.

Just remember, Photoshop linear physical dimensions always ‘appear’ to be larger than ‘real inches’ !

And remember, at 100% view magnification, 1 IMAGE pixel is displayed by 1 SCREEN pixel.  At 50% view magnification 1 SCREEN pixel is actually displaying the dithered average of 2 IMAGE pixels.  At 25% magnification each monitor pixel is displaying the average of 4 image pixels.

Anyway, that’s about it from me until the New Year folks, though I am the worlds biggest Grinch, so I might well do another video or two on YouTube over the ‘festive period’ so don’t forget to subscribe over there.

Thanks for reading, thanks for watching my videos, and Have a Good One!

OpenGL Support for Lightroom Classic CC on Mac

OpenGL Support for Lightroom Classic CC on Mac

lrclassic marquee 1440x660 900x413 OpenGL Support for Lightroom Classic CC on Mac

Okay, so I’ve been ‘banging on’ about the problem that quite a few people have been suffering from with the new Lightroom Classic CC and GPU acceleration since Adobe launched the new application.

I must stress that this problem does NOT seem to effect anyone using MBP or iMac, or indeed any Mac Pro that runs a factory-fitted GPU.  But if you can remember, I fitted my Mac Pro with an nVidia GTX 970 4Gb GPU a while back – mainly to help Photoshop CC with the heavy lifting in ‘Refine Edge’ and other masking/channel masking procedures.

But I’m now pleased to report that the problem is FIXED – and, as I suspected, the fix is simple, and the ‘fix’ is a tiny 28 byte file.  Yes, that’s right, 28 BYTES!

It’s an API Thing

Now I’m totally rubbish with computer jargon, but API is the acronym for Application Programming Interface, and with regard to GPU/Graphics Cards there a 4 main APIs:

  • OpenGL
  • Direct Ex – in other words Microsoft
  • Metal – in other words Apple
  • Vulcan – don’t ask/no idea

For some reason, on certain Mac systems, Lightroom Classic CC is not finding OpenGL, and is instead being forced into trying to use the OSX API ‘metal’.

The forums have been rife with Lightroom Classic CC problems for the last few days – this one included.  On one of these forums, Adobes Simon Chen, had been attempting to field questions over this problem.

I asked Simon if there was any way to ‘force’ Lightroom Classic CC to ignore the OSX API and default to OpenGL – which was obviously there on the system, because the previous iteration of Lightroom had been using it quite happily.

Simon suggested the installation of this tiny 28 byte ‘config.lua’ file into Lightrooms’ Application Support root folder – and would you believe it, it works!

You can download the config.lua file from here.

Below is a short video I’ve made this morning on how to download and install this tiny file which will re-instate Lightroom Classic CCs ability to use the OpenGL API.

So now I’m a happy bunny; and if you have the problem then just follow the video instructions and you’ll be a happy bunny too!

Big thanks to Simon Chen, Principle Scientist at Adobe for helping sort this irritating niggle out.

Adobe Lightroom Classic and Photoshop CC 2018 tips

Adobe Lightroom Classic and Photoshop CC 2018 tips – part 1

So, you’ve either upgraded to Lightroom Classic CC and Photoshop CC 2018, or you are thinking doing so.

Well, here are a couple of things I’ve found – I’ve called this part1, because I’m sure there will be other problems/irritations!

Lightroom Classic CC GPU Acceleration problem

If you are having problems with shadow areas appearing too dark and somewhat ‘chocked’ in the develop module – but things look fine in the Library module – then just follow the simple steps in the video above and TURN OFF GPU Acceleration in the Lightroom preferences panel under the performance tab.

Screen Shot 2017 10 19 at 12.06.49 1 900x506 Adobe Lightroom Classic and Photoshop CC 2018 tips

Turn OFF GPU Acceleration

UPDATE: I have subsequently done another video on this topic that illustrates the fact that the problem did not exist in Lr CC 2015 v.12/Camera Raw v.9.12

In the new Photoshop CC 2018 there is an irritation/annoyance with the brush tool, and something called the ‘brush leash’.

Now why on earth you need your brush on a leash God ONLY KNOWS!

But the brush leash manifests itself as a purple/magenta line that follows your brush tool everywhere.

You have a smoothness slider for your brush – it’s default setting is 10%.  If we increase that value then the leash line gets even longer, and even more bloody irritating.

And why we would need an indicator (which is what the leash is) of smoothness amount and direction for our brush strokes is a bit beyond me – because we can see it anyway.

So, if you want to change the leash length, use the smoothing slider.

If you want to change the leash colour just go to Photoshop>Preferences>Cursors

Screen Shot 2017 10 19 at 12.23.50 900x704 Adobe Lightroom Classic and Photoshop CC 2018 tips

Here, you can change the colour, or better still, get rid of it completely by unticking the “show brush leash while smoothing” option.

So there are a couple of tips from my first 24 hours with the latest 2018 ransom ware versions from Adobe!

But I’m sure there will be more, so stay tuned, and consider heading over to my YouTube channel and hitting the subscribe button, and hit the ‘notifications bell’ while you’re at it!



Color Temperature

Lightroom Color Temperature (or Colour Temperature if you spell correctly!)

“Andy – why the heck is Lightrooms temperature slider the wrong way around?”

That’s a question that I used to get asked quite a lot, and it’s started again since I mentioned it in passing a couple of posts ago.

The short answer is “IT ISN”T….it’s just you who doesn’t understand what it is and how it functions”.

But in order to give the definitive answer I feel the need to get back to basics though – so here goes.

The Spectrum Locus

Let’s get one thing straight from the start – LOCUS is just a posh word for PATH!

Visible light is just part of the electro-magnetic energy spectrum typically between 380nm (nanometers) and 700nm:

%name Color Temperature

In the first image below is what’s known as the Spectrum Locus – as defined by the CIE (Commission Internationale de l´Eclairage or International Commission on Illumination).

In a nutshell the locus represents the range of colors visible to the human eye – or I should say chromaticities:

1200px CIE1931xy blank Color Temperature

The blue numbers around the locus are simply the nanometer values from that same horizontal scale above. The reasoning behind the unit values of the x and y axis are complex and irrelevant to us in this post, otherwise it’ll go on for ages.

The human eye is a fickle thing.

It will always perceive, say, 255 green as being lighter than 255 red or 255 blue, and 255 blue as being the darkest of the three.  And the same applies to any value of the three primaries, as long as all three are the same.

perception Color Temperature

This stems from the fact that the human eye has around twice the response to green light as it does red or blue – crazy but true.  And that’s why your camera sensor – if it’s a Bayer type – has twice the number of green photosites on it as red or blue.

In rather over-simplified terms the CIE set a standard by which all colors in the visible spectrum could be expressed in terms of ‘chromaticity’ and ‘brightness’.

Brightness can be thought of as a grey ramp from black to white.

Any color space is a 3 dimensional shape with 3 axes x, y and z.

Z is the grey ramp from black to white, and the shape is then defined by the colour positions in terms of their chromaticity on the x and y axes, and their brightness on the z axis:

adobeRGB1998 Color Temperature

But if we just take the chromaticity values of all the colours visible to the human eye we end up with the CIE1931 spectrum locus – a two dimensional plot if you like, of the ‘perceived’ color space of human vision.

Now here’s where the confusion begins for the majority of ‘uneducated photographers’ – and I mean that in the nicest possible way, it’s not a dig!

Below is the same spectrum locus with an addition:

PlanckianLocus Color Temperature

This additional TcK curve is called the Planckian Locus, or dark body locus.  Now please don’t give up here folks, after all you’ve got this far, but it’ll get worse before it gets better!

The Planckian Locus simply represents the color temperature in degrees Kelvin of the colour emitted by a ‘dark body’ – think lump of pure carbon – as it is heated.  Its color temperature begins to visibly rise as its thermal temperature rises.

Up to a certain thermal temperature it’ll stay visibly black, then it will begin to glow a deep red.  Warm it up some more and the red color temperature turns to orange, then yellow and finally it will be what we can call ‘white hot’.

So the Planckian Locus is the 2D chromaticity plot of the colours emitted by a dark body as it is heated.

Here’s point of confusion number 1: do NOT jump to the conclusion that this is in any way a greyscale. “Well it starts off BLACK and ends up WHITE” – I’ve come across dozens of folk who think that – as they say, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing indeed!

What the Planckian Locus IS indicative of though is WHITE POINT.

Our commonly used colour management white points of D65, D55 and D50 all lie along the Planckian Locus, as do all the other CIE standard illumimant types of which there’s more than few.

The standard monitor calibration white point of D65 is actually 6500 Kelvin – it’s a standardized classification for ‘mean Noon Daylight’, and can be found on the Spectrum Locus/Plankckian Locus at 0.31271x, 0.32902y.

D55 or 5500 Kelvin is classed as Mid Morning/Mid Afternoon Daylight and can be found at 0.33242x, 0.34743y.

D50 or 5000 kelvin is classed as Horizon Light with co-ordinates of 0.34567x, 0.35850.

But we can also equate Planckian Locus values to our ‘picture taking’ in the form of white balance.

FACT: The HIGHER the color temperature the BLUER the light, and lower color temperatures shift from blue to yellow, then orange (studio type L photofloods 3200K), then more red (standard incandescent bulb 2400K) down to candle flame at around 1850K).  Sunset and sunrise are typically standardized at 1850K and LPS Sodium street lights can be as low as 1700K.

And a clear polar sky can be upwards of 27,000K – now there’s blue for you!

And here’s where we find confusion point number 2!

Take a look at this shot taken through a Lee Big Stopper:

2 Color Temperature

I’m an idle git and always have my camera set to a white balance of Cloudy B1, and here I’m shooting through a filter that notoriously adds a pretty severe bluish cast to an image anyway.

If you look at the TEMP and TINT sliders you will see Cloudy B1 is interpreted by Lightroom as 5550 Kelvin and a tint of +5 – that’s why the notation is ‘AS SHOT’.

Officially a Cloudy white balance is anywhere between 6000 Kelvin and 10,000 kelvin depending on your definition, and I’ve stuck extra blue in there with the Cloudy B1 setting, which will make the effective temperature go up even higher.

So either way, you can see that Lightrooms idea of 5550 Kelvin is somewhat ‘OFF’ to say the least, but it’s irrelevant at this juncture.

Where the real confusion sets in is shown in the image below:

1 Color Temperature

“Andy, now you’ve de-blued the shot why is the TEMP slider value saying 8387 Kelvin ? Surely it should be showing a value LOWER than 5550K – after all, tungsten is warm and 3200K”….

How right you are…..and wrong at the same time!

What Lightroom is saying is that I’ve added YELLOW to the tune of 8387-5550 or 2837.

FACT – the color temperature controls in Lightroom DO NOT work by adjusting the Planckian or black body temperature of light in our image.  They are used to COMPENSATE for the recorded Planckian/black body temperature.

If you load in image in the develop module of Lightroom and use any of the preset values, the value itself is ball park correct(ish).

The Daylight preset loads values of 5500K and +10. The Shade preset will jump to 7500K and +10, and Tungsten will drop to 2850K and +/-0.

But the Tungsten preset puts the TEMP slider in the BLUE part of the slider Blue/Yellow graduated scale, and the Shade preset puts the slider in the YELLOW side of the scale, thus leading millions of people into mistakenly thinking that 7500K is warmer/yellower than 2850K when it most definitely is NOT!

This kind of self-induced bad learning leaves people wide open to all sorts of misunderstandings when it comes to other aspects of color theory and color management.

My advice has always been the same, just ignore the numbers in Lightroom and do your adjustments subjectively – do what looks right!

But for heaven sake don’t try and build an understanding of color temperature based on the color balance control values in Lightroom – otherwise you get in one heck of a mess.

Monitor Calibration Update

Monitor Calibration Update

Okay, so I no longer NEED a new monitor, because I’ve got one – and my wallet is in Leighton Hospital Intensive Care Unit on the critical list..

What have you gone for Andy?  Well if you remember, in my last post I was undecided between 24″ and 27″, Eizo or BenQ.  But I was favoring the Eizo CS2420, on the grounds of cost, both in terms of monitor and calibration tool options.

But I got offered a sweet deal on a factory-fresh Eizo CS270 by John Willis at Calumet – so I got my desire for more screen real-estate fulfilled, while keeping the costs down by not having to buy a new calibrator.

%name Monitor Calibration Update

But it still hurt to pay for it!

Monitor Calibration

There are a few things to consider when it comes to monitor calibration, and they are mainly due to the physical attributes of the monitor itself.

In my previous post I did mention one of them – the most important one – the back light type.

CCFL and WCCFL – cold cathode fluorescent lamps, or LED.

CCFL & WCCFL (wide CCFL) used to be the common type of back light, but they are now less common, being replaced by LED for added colour reproduction, improved signal response time and reduced power consumption.  Wide CCFL gave a noticeably greater colour reproduction range and slightly warmer colour temperature than CCFL – and my old monitor was fitted with WCCFL back lighting, hence I used to be able to do my monitor calibration to near 98% of AdobeRGB.

CCFL back lights have one major property – that of being ‘cool’ in colour, and LEDs commonly exhibit a slightly ‘warmer’ colour temperature.

But there’s LEDs – and there’s LEDs, and some are cooler than others, some are of fixed output and others are of a variable output.

The colour temperature of the backlighting gives the monitor a ‘native white point’.

The ‘brightness’ of the backlight is really the only true variable on a standard type of LCD display, and the inter-relationship between backlight brightness and colour temperature, and the size of the monitors CLUT (colour look-up table) can have a massive effect on the total number of colours that the monitor can display.

Industry-standard documentation by folk a lot cleverer than me has for years recommended the same calibration target settings as I have alluded to in previous blog posts:

White Point: D65 or 6500K

Brightness: 120 cdm² or candelas per square meter

Gamma: 2.2

Screen Shot 2017 04 02 at 13.04.25 Monitor Calibration Update

The ubiquitous ColorMunki Photo ‘standard monitor calibration’ method setup screen.

This setup for ‘standard monitor calibration’ works extremely well, and has stood me in good stead for more years than I care to add up.

As I mentioned in my previous post, standard monitor calibration refers to a standard method of calibration, which can be thought of as ‘software calibration’, and I have done many print workshops where I have used this method to calibrate Eizo ColorEdge and NEC Spectraviews with great effect.

However, these more specialised colour management monitors have the added bonus of giving you a ‘hardware monitor calbration’ option.

To carry out a hardware monitor calibration on my new CS270 ColorEdge – or indeed any ColorEdge – we need to employ the Eizo ColorNavigator.

The start screen for ColorNavigator shows us some interesting items:

colnav1 Monitor Calibration Update

The recommended brightness value is 100 cdm² – not 120.

The recommended white point is D55 not D65.

Thank God the gamma value is the same!

Once the monitor calibration profile has been done we get a result screen of the physical profile:

colnav2 Monitor Calibration Update

Now before anyone gets their knickers in a knot over the brightness value discrepancy there’s a couple of things to bare in mind:

  1. This value is always slightly arbitrary and very much dependent on working/viewing conditions.  The working environment should be somewhere between 32 and 64 lux or cdm² ambient – think Bat Cave!  The ratio of ambient to monitor output should always remain at between 32:75/80 and 64:120/140 (ish) – in other words between 1:2 and 1:3 – see earlier post here.
  2. The difference between 100 and 120 cdm² is less than 1/4 stop in camera Ev terms – so not a lot.

What struck me as odd though was the white point setting of D55 or 5500K – that’s 1000K warmer than I’m used to. (yes- warmer – don’t let that temp slider in Lightroom cloud your thinking!).

1000k Monitor Calibration UpdateAfter all, 1000k is a noticeable variation – unlike the brightness 20cdm² shift.

Here’s the funny thing though; if I ‘software calibrate’ the CS270 using the ColorMunki software with the spectro plugged into the Mac instead of the monitor, I visually get the same result using D65/120cdm² as I do ‘hardware calibrating’ at D55 and 100cdm².

The same that is, until I look at the colour spaces of the two generated ICC profiles:

profile Monitor Calibration Update

The coloured section is the ‘software calibration’ colour space, and the wire frame the ‘hardware calibrated’ Eizo custom space – click the image to view larger in a separate window.

The hardware calibration profile is somewhat larger and has a slightly better black point performance – this will allow the viewer to SEE just that little bit more tonality in the deepest of shadows, and those perennially awkward colours that sit in the Blue, Cyan, Green region.

It’s therefore quite obvious that monitor calibration via the hardware/ColorNavigator method on Eizo monitors does buy you that extra bit of visual acuity, so if you own an Eizo ColorEdge then it is the way to go for sure.

Having said that, the differences are small-ish so it’s not really worth getting terrifically evangelical over it.

But if you have the monitor then you should have the calibrator, and if said calibrator is ‘on the list’ of those supported by ColorNavigator then it’s a bit of a JDI – just do it.

You can find the list of supported calibrators here.

Eizo and their ColorNavigator are basically making a very effective ‘mash up’ of the two ISO standards 3664 and 12646 which call for D65 and D50 white points respectively.

Why did I go CHEAP ?

Well, cheaper…..

Apart from the fact that I don’t like spending money – the stuff is so bloody hard to come by – I didn’t want the top end Eizo in either 27″ or 24″.

With the ‘top end’ ColorEdge monitors you are paying for some things that I at least, have little or no use for:

  • 3D CLUT – I’m a general sort of image maker who gets a bit ‘creative’ with my processing and printing.  If I was into graphics and accurate repro of Pantone and the like, or I specialised in archival work for the V & A say, then super-accurate colour reproduction would be critical.  The advantage of the 3D CLUT is that it allows a greater variety of SUBTLY different tones and hues to be SEEN and therefore it’s easier to VISUALLY check that they are maintained when shifting an image from one colour space to another – eg softproofing for print.  I’m a wildlife and landscape photographer – I don’t NEED that facility because I don’t work in a world that requires a stringent 100% colour accuracy.
  • Built-in Calibrator – I don’t need one ‘cos I’ve already got one!
  • Built-in Self-Correction Sensor – I don’t need one of those either!

So if your photography work is like mine, then it’s worth hunting out a ‘zero hours’ CS270 if you fancy the extra screen real-estate, and you want to spend less than if buying its replacement – the CS2730.  You won’t notice the extra 5 milliseconds slower response time, and the new CS2730 eats more power – but you do get a built-in carrying handle!


Good Contrast Control in Lightroom CC

Contrast Control in Lightroom

Learning how to deploy proper contrast control in Lightroom brings with it two major benefits:

  • It allows you to reveal more of your camera sensors dynamic range.
  • It will allow you to reveal considerably more image detail.

ContrastControl Good Contrast Control in Lightroom CC

I have posted on this subject before, under the guise of neutralising Lightrooms ‘hidden background adjustments’.  But as Lightroom CC 2015 evolves, trying to ‘nail’ the best way of doing something becomes like trying to hit a moving target.

For the last few months I’ve been using this (for me) new method – and to be honest it works like a charm!

It involves the use of the ‘zero’ preset together with a straight process version swap around, as illustrated in the before/after shot above and in the video linked below.  This video is best viewed on my YouTube channel:

The process might seem a little tedious at first, but it’s really easy when you get used to it, and it works on ALL images from ALL cameras.

Here is a step-by-step guide to the various Lightroom actions you need to take in order to obtain good contrast control:

Contrast Control Workflow Steps:

1. Develop Module Presets: Choose ZEROED
2. Camera Calibration Panel: Choose CAMERA NEUTRAL
3. Camera Calibration Panel: Choose Process Version 2010
4. Camera Calibration Panel: Choose Process Version 2012
5. Basics Panel: Double Click Exposure (goes from -1 to 0)
6. Basics Panel: Adjust Black Setting to taste if needed.
7. Details Panel: Reset Sharpening to default +25
8. Details Panel: Reset Colour Noise to default +25
9. Lens Corrections Panel: Tick Remove Chromatic Aberration.

Now that you’ve got good contrast control you can set about processing your image – just leave the contrast slider well alone!

Why is contrast control important, and why does it ‘add’ so much to my images Andy?

We are NOT really reducing the contrast of the raw file we captured.  We are simply reducing the EXCESSIVE CONTRAST that Lightroom ADDS to our files.

  • Lightroom typically ADDS a +33 contrast adjustment but ‘calls it’ ZERO.
  • Lightroom typically ADDS a medium contrast tone curve but ‘calls it’ LINEAR.

Both of this are contrast INCREASES, and any increase in contrast can be seen as a ‘compression’ of the tonal space between BLACK and WHITE.  This is a dynamic range visualisation killer because it crushes the ends of the midtone range.

It’s also a detail killer, because 99% of the subject detail is in the mid tone range.  Typically the Lightroom tonal curve range for midtones is 25% to 75%, but Lightroom is quite happy to accept a midtone range of 10% to 90% – check those midtone arrow adjusters at the bottom edge of the parametric tone curve!

I hope you find this post useful folks, and don’t forget to watch the video at full resolution on my YouTube Channel.


Lightroom Instagram Plugin

instag Lightroom Instagram PluginLightroom Instagram Plugin

Even though I suppose I am rather tech-savvy for an old fart, I have major head-problems with most social media.

Facebook took me years to get the hang of..

And even though I have an account, followers and everything I simply CANNOT get my head around Twitter …. it makes NO f***ing sense to me at all!

Over the last year I’ve also been aware of the growing use by professional of this other “thing” called Instagram.

About two months ago I asked my son Richard to explain how it works:

“It’s simple Dad, it’s Twitter for images”………..I couldn’t work out who to shoot first, me or him.

But, after much grief I was eventually shown how to put an image on Instagram.  I have an iPhone and an iPad but bare in mind it took me ages to work out how to put pictures on them.

And ALL mobile apps confound the hell out of me – so overly-simplified I find them difficult to use and I run out of patience!

So here I am looking at Instagram and seeing that I have to send an image to my iPad then I can upload it to Instagram – WTF????

I put a single image on there – it took me at least 30 minutes, and Rich was pissing himself laughing which didn’t help!

I tried a couple of programmes that were supposed to help put images on Instagram from a desktop machine, but they turned out to be more bloody complicated than the iPad method.

Needless to say I put Instagram on the back-burner.

BUT………………..someone has done something EPIC.  They’ve made a Lightroom Instagram Plugin – and it works!

It’s called LR/Instagram and you can download it HERE

LRInst Lightroom Instagram Plugin

Simply click the download link, unzip the the file and copy the LRInstagram.lrplugin file to your Lightroom plug-ins folder.

Open up your Lightroom Plug-in Manager and click “ADD” then navigate to the file itself

lrinst2 Lightroom Instagram Plugin

and click Add Plug-in.

The plug-in will appear under Publish Services in the bottom left panel of your Library Module.

Lrinst3 Lightroom Instagram Plugin

Click “Set Up”

Assuming you’ve actually got an Instagram account (if not then get one) all you need to do is fill in your account U/N and P/W and click Login:

Lrinst4 Lightroom Instagram Plugin

Once logged into your account you need to set the export preferences – I actually leave them set as above (default) with added standard screen sharpening and a custom watermark.

Simply click ‘Save’ and you’re done!

Using the Lightroom Instagram Plugin is easy if you are used to any of the other publish services inside Lightroom, but if you want to see it in action here is a short video on my YouTube channel – if you are viewing this post via email then the video will not show up – read it on the blog itself

This Lightroom Instagram Plugin seems to work flawlessly and definitely speeds up and simplifies publish images to Instagram – all I need to do now is work out an effective hash-tag method!

Lightroom Folders Panel

Lightroom Folders Panel

cc2015.6 1 Lightroom Folders PanelI find a lot of people are either confused or just plain unsure of what functions you can carry out in the Lightroom folders panel.

All Lightroom users should be familiar with the perennial problem of missing files, folders or drives from their Lightroom Catalogue, as indicated by the “!” exclamation mark in the top right corner of their image thumbnails.

Adobe really hack me off – for ages Lightroom indicated “missing” files with a question mark on the thumbnail.  But in their infinite wisdom they changed that to an exclamation mark (of course, still keeping the question mark in the Folders Panel!) just to confuse the bejesus out of everyone.  So now we have TWO TYPES of exclamation mark, each with a different meaning – nice one chaps……………….

Screen Shot 2016 07 12 at 11.15.50 Lightroom Folders Panel

With the exception of disconnected drives, missing files and folders are usually the result of moving files and folders via Windows Explorer on PC or Finder on the Mac.

And I find that in the majority of cases folk are just simply unaware that the same operations can be carried out within Lightroom via the Lightroom Folders Panel.

  • We can move files between folders.
  • We can move folders between drives.
  • And we can create new hierarchical folder structures on any attached drive.

All with the added bonuses of:

  1. Not leaving the Lightroom GUI.
  2. Lightroom does NOT loose the file/folder locations, so we avoid the dreaded “!” problem!

So I have created a couple of video lessons on YouTube:

If you are viewing this post via subscription email the please view the physical blog post – sometimes the video links do not show up in the emails.

Hopefully these two short lessons will enable you to understand the folder structure and placement options available to you via the Lightroom Folders Panel.


The Guided Upright Tool in Lightroom CC 2015.6

Guided Upright Tool in Lightroom CC 2015.6

cc2015.6 The Guided Upright Tool in Lightroom CC 2015.6

Important – if you are reading this post about the new Guided Upright Tool via subscription email PLEASE view it directly on the blog instead.

Guided Upright The Guided Upright Tool in Lightroom CC 2015.6

Yesterday Adobe released updates for Lightroom CC 2015, Lightroom 6 (non CC) and Photoshop CC2015.

These updates reconciled a few bug fixes and added new camera support BUT, Lr CC subscribers got themselves a new tool – yeah!

And what a useful tool it is – the Guided Upright Tool.

Below you’ll see a video of me showing how to deploy the tool, but basically it makes a damn fine job of getting rid of awkward and complex distortions from wide angle lenses that I’ve always had to resort to fixing with the Photoshop Warp Tool.

Firstly, lets take a look at the develop module panel where it lives:

cc2015.6 2 The Guided Upright Tool in Lightroom CC 2015.6

Compared to the old Lens Correction Panel in previous versions of Lightroom:

2015.5 The Guided Upright Tool in Lightroom CC 2015.6

As you can see from the comparison image at the top of the page, this tool does a fine job of quickly and effectively removing the skewed field curvature from the lighthouse – watch the video below on how I did this – really simple!

You might want to click the YouTube link at the bottom of the video to view at full size.


Something I forgot to stress in the video – you MUST check the ENABLE PROFILE CORRECTIONS in the lens corrections panel in order for the Guided Upright Tool to function.

You can only use a maximum of 4 lines, so choose them wisely!

When you add a third or fourth line you MAY get a warning “ ! Invalid Guide Configuration” – if you do, simply hit the backspace/delete key to remove the line causing the conflict.

Because the resulting correction can result in a major ‘crop’ to the image, you may loose vital pixels and end up with a less than desirable composition.

Plus Points:

Fast, effective and a time-saver; giving you the ability to correct for distorted horizontals and vertical at the same time.

I rate this as one of the best tools Adobe have added to Lightroom in ages, though I can’t give it 10/10 because we end up with a cropped image, and as I hinted at earlier, there are ways to do this in Photoshop that maintain ALL the pixels in the image.