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.

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 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.



Lightroom – Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Lightroom – Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation.

We all know how good Lightroom is – but it’s also a total pain in the arse!

Ages ago, I did a post about Lightroom 5 and accurate colour HERE and, according to this blogs page-view stats, that post still gets a large global viewing figure every month – so it’s something of an on-going problem for a lot of users.

But things have moved on a bit since then, and we are now working with the v5 release of Lightroom 6/CC 2015 – and things haven’t got any better, sadly, from the perspective of actually “seeing what you captured”.

The problem lies in the fact that Lightroom, for a long time, ceased to be a “neutral” RAW handler.  It uses a variety of ‘behind the scenes’ algorithms to add what it thinks are good adjustments in terms of exposure brightness and contrast.  In other words Lightroom adds hidden adjustments which we cannot see because they are not registered on the adjustment sliders under process version 2012.

Why does it do this – God only knows!

But when I take into account the support Lightroom currently offers for mobile phone cameras, cloud synch etc, I can’t help thinking that Adobe are trying to give Lightroom some sort of mass-market appeal by adding what the designers and coders think is some sort of WOW-factor to image previews – though I might be wrong!

But whatever Adobes reasoning, the fact remains that SOME OF US want to see our raw files for what they are – straight gamma 2.2 encoded versions of what the sensor recorded.  Only by learning how to Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation  can we actually arrive at a suitable starting point for the development process.

The Case To Answer

Firstly, a lot of you might be wondering WTF I’m ranting on about – your RAW image previews look great before you start doing anything to them – mmmmm….

If that’s the case then NEWS FLASH – RAW files should look as flat as dish-water pre-process, and you have do some work to make them look good.  So believe me, if your raws look “nice ‘n punchy” from the get-go then something is wrong somewhere!

Out there in photography land there are two RAW file handlers that are notorious for being “neutral” in their initial raw render – Raw Digger, and Iridient Developer.

Let me demonstrate the “case to answer” by using the same image I used the other day when giving Canon an indirect slagging off over lossless compression:

FW1Q1351 2 600x400 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Raw file opened in Lightroom with no user adjustments BUT WITH Lightroom ‘hidden exposure compensation’.

Now let’s open the same file in Raw Digger:

RawDigger Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Raw file opened in Raw Digger with no user adjustments.

And now in Iridient Developer:

IridientDev Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Raw file opened in Iridient Developer with no user adjustments.

And now, just for good measure, my Lightroom-processed version of the image:

FW1Q1351 600x400 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Raw file processed in Lightroom WITH user adjustments.

Both RAW Digger and Iridient Developer give the user a much better processing start point simply because they are neutral and don’t go about making contrast-loaded ‘background adjustments’.  And I’m sure you can see that the final Lightroom processed version of the image bares more resemblance to the RAW Digger and Iridient screen grabs than the Lightroom ‘as is’ preview.

Now if you are a total maniac then you can go and download either of the two aforementioned raw developers and get yourself super-confused or you can learn how to ‘neutralise’ the Lightroom background adjustment ‘crap’ – which is far easier!

How to Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation in Lightroom.

Step 1.  Scroll down to the Camera Calibration Panel in the Develop module and switch the Process Version from PV2012 to PV 2010:

Step1 600x375 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Step 1 in Neutralising Lightroom Hidden Exposure Compensation.

Step 2.  Scroll up to the Basics panel (a very different looking one if you never used Lightroom 3!) and make the following changes:

  1. Blacks from 5 to 0
  2. Brightness from +50 to 0
  3. Contrast from +25 to 0
Step 2 600x375 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Step 2 in Neutralising Lightroom Hidden Exposure Compensation.

Step 3.  Move to the Tone Curve and change the Medium Contrast tone curve to Linear:

Step 3 600x375 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Step 3 in Neutralising Lightroom Hidden Exposure Compensation.

DO NOT concern yourself with the fact that your image has gone dark and flat, it’s to be expected!

Step 4.  Scroll back down to Camera Calibration and switch the process version BACK to PV2012, then scroll back up to the Basics Panel:

Step 4 600x375 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Step 4 in Neutralising Lightroom Hidden Exposure Compensation.

Step 5.  Yes I know it still looks awful, but if you now change that -1EV to 0 on the exposure slider you’ll get a great process start image:

Step 5 600x375 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Step 5 in Neutralising Lightroom Hidden Exposure Compensation.

Looking at the before and after images you can see that we have got contrast under control – in other words we have removed the excess contrast added to the image with the  Lightroom hidden background shenanigans.

Indeed, we can see exactly how much contrast has been removed with this ‘by the numbers’ process by looking at the -33 Contrast value – DO NOT RESET THIS BACK TO 0!!!!

The process has decreased contrast still further by lifting the Blacks value to +25.  You need to check the shadow areas on the image in this respect.  If they are looking a bit noisy (Hello Canon!) you might want to drop the blacks value to maybe +5 to +10 and open the shadows a bit more with a small positive adjustment to the Shadows slider in the basics panel.

And so processing is just a matter of a few subjective tweaks until I’m happy with the image:

Final 600x375 Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Click to view larger image.

In the Tone Curve panel you can see the multi-point Custom Curve the process has added.  If you click the up/down arrows to the right of the word Custom you will see a menu giving you the option to save the curve:

SaveCurve Lightroom   Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation

Saving the custom curve.

I save the curve with the name 2010to2012 – by default it saves as an .xmp file, and to the user/Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRaw/Curves file path (Mac).

Saving the curve is useful as it makes for a very quick adjustment of further images.

However, there is a caveat (isn’t there always!) and it’s this:

The majority of  adjustments in Lightroom are specific to camera sensor and ISO.  In simple terms the same numeric value of adjustment to any control slider can have differing effects depending on the sensor it was made by and the ISO at which it was shot.  It’s very important that you wrap your head around this fact.

The curve I’ve produced here is correct for a Canon 1DX at the shot ISO which was 1000 or 800 if my memory serves correctly.  I could apply this curve to a 100 ISO image shot with a Nikon D800E, and it would do a good job, but I might get a slightly better result if I go through the whole process again to produce a custom curve for the D800E using a 100 ISO shot to begin with.  But even if that new curve visually gives a different result it will still have the same numeric values in the basics panel!

If I save the curve and then apply it to another image via the Tone Curve panel the contrast and blacks Basic Panel values do NOT change – but you will get a better distribution of contrast.

You may want to generate and save at least a low and high ISO variant of the curve for each of your camera bodies; or you could be a smart-arse like me by just using one curve and eye-balling the finer tweaks.

You can also create the curve and then save the settings as a User Develop Preset and then apply it to future imports via the import module.

So there you have it, how to Neutralise Hidden Exposure Compensation in Lightroom and see you images properly – have fun folks!

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Lightroom Crash Cured?

LRCC2015splash Lightroom Crash Cured?

Lightroom Crash Cure – hot-fix from Adobe

Adobe have now released a hot-fix for the Lightroom CC 2015/6.2 crash problem.

I applied the new patch to two machines and they both appear to be fully functional, but some people are still reporting problems.

The update should appear in your CC Apps panel notifications, or under Help>Updates.  If it doesn’t, you can try restarting Lightroom. I’ll tell you now that neither worked for me, so I manually downloaded the fix, so here are the links:

Mac 2.1 fix HERE

WinPC 2.1 fix HERE

If you are still having problems, please let me know.

And just to be clear, I have still NOT upgraded to El Capitan OSX 10.11.


Lightroom CC 2015 v2.0 crash fix

Lightroom CC 2015 v2.0 Crash Fix

LRCC2015splash Lightroom CC 2015 v2.0 crash fix

Okay, there’s a lot muck flying around at the moment with regard to the latest version of Lightroom to be released by Adobe – CC 2015 v2.0 or 6 v2.0

Accusations of premature release because of Adobe Max etc aside, there is undoubtedly a problem, at least for Mac users, regarding v2.0 compatibility with the latest Mac OS – v10.11 El Capitan, and to an extent with the existing OSX 10.10

Now I have been doing a lot of Lightroom training and workshops so far this year, and I’ve been asked on more than a few occasions why I haven’t brought out any new tutorial videos.  Well the answer is quite simple – v1 iterations all seems to me to be a little ‘clunky’.

By that I mean ‘system load’ clunky – the actual GUI and general workflow and dev procedures are great. But I’ve always found it slow-loading, a little reticent to switch catalogues, and also sometimes very slow at recognising metadata changes and file derivatives from Photoshop, even though the edit commands had been issued directly from Lightroom in the first instance.

So I was quite hopeful when I heard we were to expect Lightroom CC 2015 v2…

Also, for a few weeks now, I’ve kept getting notifications from Apple about a beta 10.11 version of OSX – El Capitan.

Having been bitten in the arse by new OSX versions too many times in the past I decided to check out the ‘improvements/benefits’ together with any reported problems.  Seemingly (as of writing) this was a wise decision with regard to both Lightroom CC 2015 v1.1.1 and Photoshop CC 2015  – strange that so many folk globally didn’t think of doing the same!

I jumped from Mountain Lion to Yosemite – never went anywhere near Mavericks! As with most things in life I have the train of thought that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, and I’ve found that this really does apply a lot to OSX upgrades – updates I take straight away; but changes in OSX I shy away from until all the bugs are ironed out.

Yesterday I did a Lightroom workshop at Calumet Manchester.  When I turned on the iMac that I use for these events I got a CC notification about updates to both Lightroom & Photoshop CC 2015.

Being the responsible twat that I am, I ignored the updates, seeing as I was about to do a whole day in Lightroom in front of witnesses!

And it’s a damn good job I did!

Once back in the office I did some checking about said updates and found that the ‘shit had hit the fan’ big-time – Christ, even “Queen” Victoria was saying not to take the upgrade!  On further reading I noted that a lot of the reported problems were coming for the most part from folk running OSX 10.11 – El Capitan….and Windows 10 too.

Being the eternal sceptic, I couldn’t help getting the feeling that a lot of what I was reading was like ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’ – so you can guess what I did next; yep, installed Lightroom CC 2015 V2.0 on my Mac Pro!

How wrong was I !

Working within an existing catalogue, everything seems fine on the face of it; it boots much faster and generally appears to be error-free.

But trying to export an image causes it to crash, and it can’t make new catalogues either, it just seems to ignore the process.

The simple fact is that the upgrade is broken – seemingly for all versions of OSX and for Windows PC users too.

So my advice is to NOT upgrade Lightroom from v1.1.1 (July 2015) and do not upgrade your OSX from 10.10 to 10.11.

Adobe are, as they say, on the case.

The Short Term Lightroom Crash Fix

But, if you are one the many poor unfortunate folk who HAVE updated to Lightroom CC 2015 v2.0 then do not stress (and this applies to PC versions too):

That’s it – you’ve now ‘rolled back’ Lightroom.

It’s worth going into the preferences panel to ensure the GPU Acceleration is turned off – this being the cause of the major faux-pas with the original launch!

From what I’ve seen of the new Lightroom I can say I’m impressed, and I certainly hope the official fix, when it comes, doesn’t kill off the apparent speed increase.

The Dehaze filter in the EFFECTS panel is still crap BUT it’s now become very useful in other ways – they’ve added it as a local adjustment within graduated and radial filters and the adjustment brush – now that will add some definite ‘plus’ possibilities for sure.

There’s a new look and layout for the import dialogue box with some big chunky ticks and crosses to make things a bit more obvious to the Lightroom ‘newbie’ as well as other bits ‘n bobs that may prove useful or not as the case may be.

But overall I like it – from what I’ve seen – apart from the fact that it doesn’t work right now!

I’m actually looking forward to the fixed issues version –  it may well turn out to be something of a seriously BIG improvement.

import1 Lightroom CC 2015 v2.0 crash fix

The new view when you click IMPORT in Lightroom CC 2015 v2.0 for the first time – some have suggested this is responsible for crashing v2.0, but personally I can neither prove or disprove the theory.

UPDATE – 06.02am Saturday 10/10/15

Last Night Adobe released a hot fix to address the problems for Mac and Windows PC users – click HERE for more info and links.



Monitor Brightness.

Monitor Brightness & Room Lighting Levels.

I had promised myself I was going to do a video review of my latest purchase – the Lee SW150Mk2 system and Big and Little Stopper filters I’ve just spent a Kings ransom on for my Nikon 14-24mm and D800E:

D4D3598 Edit Monitor Brightness.

PURE SEX – and I’ve bloody well paid for this! My new Lee SW150 MkII filter system for the Nikon 14-24. Just look at those flashy red anodised parts – bound to make me a better photographer!

But I think that’ll have to wait while I address a question that keeps cropping up lately.  What’s the question?

Well, that’s the tricky bit because it comes in many guises. But they all boil down to “what monitor brightness or luminance level should I calibrate to?”

Monitor brightness is as critical as monitor colour when it comes to calibration.  If you look at previous articles on this blog you’ll see that I always quote the same calibration values, those being:

White Point: D65 – that figure takes care of colour.

Gamma: 2.2 – that value covers monitor contrast.

Luminance: 120 cdm2 (candelas per square meter) – that takes care of brightness.

Simple in’it….?!

However, when you’ve been around all this photography nonsense as long as I have you can overlook the possibility that people might not see things as being quite so blindingly obvious as you do.

And one of those ‘omissions on my part’ has been to do with monitor brightness settings COMBINED with working lighting levels in ‘the digital darkroom’.  So I suppose I’d better correct that failing on my part now.

What does a Monitor Profile Do for your image processing?

A correctly calibrated monitor and its .icc profile do a really simple but very mission-critical job.

If we open a new document in Photoshop and fill it with flat 255 white we need to see that it’s white.  If we hold an ND filter in front of our eye then the image won’t look white, it’ll look grey.

If we hold a blue filter in front of our eye the image will not look white – it’ll look blue.

That white image doesn’t exist ‘inside the monitor’ – it’s on our computer!  It only gets displayed on the monitor because of the graphics output device in our machine.

So, if you like, we’re on the outside looking in; and we are looking through a window on to our white image.  The colour and brightness level in our white image are correct on the inside of the system – our computer – but the viewing window or monitor might be too bright or too dark, and/or might be exhibiting a colour tint or cast.

Unless our monitor is a totally ‘clean window’ in terms of colour neutrality, then our image colour will not be displayed correctly.

And if the monitor is not running at the correct brightness then the colours and tones in our images will appear to be either too dark or too bright.  Please note the word ‘appear’…

Let’s get a bit fancy and make a greyscale in Photoshop:

Untitled 1 Monitor Brightness.

The dots represent Lab 50 to Lab 95 – the most valuable tonal range between midtone and highlight detail.

Look at the distance between Lab 50 & Lab 95 on the three greyscales above – the biggest ‘span’ is the correctly calibrated monitor.  In both the ‘too bright & contrasty’ and the ‘too dark low contrast’ calibration, that valuable tonal range is compressed.

In reality the colours and tones in, say an unprocessed RAW file on one of our hard drives, are what they are.  But if our monitor isn’t calibrated correctly, what we ‘see’ on our monitor IS NOT REALITY.

Reality is what we need – the colours and tones in our images need to be faithfully reproduced on our monitor.

And so basically a monitor profile ensures that we see our images correctly in terms of colour and brightness; it ensures that we look at our images through a clean window that displays 100% of the luminance being sent to it – not 95% and not 120% – and that all our primary colours are being displayed with 100% fidelity.

In a nutshell, on an uncalibrated monitor, an image might look like crap, when in reality it isn’t.  The shit really starts to fly when you start making adjustments in an uncalibrated workspace – what you see becomes even further removed from reality.

“My prints come out too dark Andy – why?”

Because your monitor is too bright – CALIBRATE it!

“My pics look great on my screen, but everyone on Nature Photographers Network keeps telling me they’ve got too much contrast and they need a levels adjustment.  One guy even reprocessed one – everyone thought his version was better, but frankly it looked like crap to me – why is this happening Andy?

“Because your monitor brightness is too low but your gamma is too high – CALIBRATE it!  If you want your images to look like mine then you’ve got to do ALL the things I do, not just some of ’em – do you think I do all this shit for fun??????????……………grrrrrrr….

But there’s a potential problem;  just because your monitor is calibrated to perfection, that does NOT mean that everything will be golden from this point on

Monitor Viewing Conditions

So we’re outside taking a picture on a bright sunny day, but we can’t see the image on the back of the camera because there’s too much daylight, and we have to dive under a coat with our camera to see what’s going on.

But if we review that same image on the camera in the dark then it looks epic.

Now you have all experienced that…….

The monitor on the back of your camera has a set brightness level – if we view the screen in a high level of ambient light the image looks pale, washed out and in a general state of ultra low contrast.  Turn the ambient light down and the image on the camera screen becomes more vivid and the contrast increases.

But the image hasn’t changed, and neither has the camera monitor.

What HAS changed is your PERCEPTION of the colour and luminance values contained within the image itself.

Now come on kids – join the dots will you!

It does not matter how well your monitor is calibrated, if your monitor viewing conditions are not within specification.

Just like with your camera monitor, if there is too much ambient light in your working environment then your precisely calibrated monitor brightness and gamma will fail to give you a correct visualization or ‘perception’ of your image.

And the problems don’t end there either; coloured walls and ceilings reflect that colour onto the surface of your monitor, as does that stupid luminous green shirt you’re wearing – yes, I can see you!  And if you are processing on an iMac then THAT problem just got 10 times worse because of the glossy screen!

Nope – bead-blasting your 27 inches of Apple goodness is not the answer!

Right, now comes the serious stuff, so READ, INGEST and ACT.

ISO Standard 3664:2009 is the puppy we need to work to (sort of) – you can actually go and purchase this publication HERE should you feel inclined to dump 138 CHF on 34 pages of light bedtime reading.

There are actually two ISO standards that are relevant to us as image makers; ISO 12646:2015(draft) being the other.

12646 pertains to digital image processing where screens are to be compared to prints side by side (that does not necessarily refer to ‘desktop printer prints from your Epson 3000’).

3664:2009 applies to digital image processing where screen output is INDEPENDENT of print output.

We work to this standard (for the most part) because we want to process for the web as well as for print.

If we employ a print work flow involving modern soft-proofing and otherwise keep within the bounds of 3664 then we’re pretty much on the dance-floor.

ISO 3664 sets out one or two interesting and highly critical working parameters:

Ambient Light White Point: D50 – that means that the colour temperature of the light in your editing/working environment should be 5000Kelvin (not your monitor) – and in particular this means the light FALLING ON TO YOUR MONITOR from within your room. So room décor has to be colour neutral as well as the light source.

Ambient Light Value in your Editing Area: 32 to 64 Lux or lower.  Now this is what shocks so many of you guys – lower than 32 lux is basically processing in the dark!

Ambient Light Glare Permissible: 0 – this means NO REFLECTIONS on your monitor and NO light from windows or other light sources falling directly on the monitor.

Monitor White Point – D65 (under 3664) and D50 (under 12646) – we go with D65.

Monitor Luminance – 75 to 100 cdm2 (under 3664) and 80 to 120 cdm2 (under 12646 – here we begin to deviate from 3664.

We appear to be dealing with mixed reference units, but 1 Lux = 1 cdm2 or 1 candela per square metre.

The way Monitor Brightness or Luminance relates to ambient light levels is perhaps a little counter-intuitive for some folk.  Basically the LOWER your editing area Lux value the LOWER your Monitor Brightness or luminance needs to be.

Now comes the point in the story where common sense gets mixed with experience, and the outcome can be proved by looking at displayed images and prints; aesthetics as opposed numbers.

Like all serious photographers I process my own images on a wide-gamut monitor, and I print on a wide-gamut printer.

Wide gamut monitors display pretty much 90% to100% of the AdobeRGB1998 colour space.

What we might refer to as Standard Gamut monitors display something a little larger than the sRGB colour space, which as we know is considerably smaller than AdobeRGB1998.

StandardGamutvsWideGamut Monitor Brightness.

Left is a standard gamut/sRGB monitor and right is a typical wide gamut/AdobeRGB1998 monitor – if you can call any NEC ‘typical’!

Find all the gory details about monitors on this great resource site – TFT Central.

At workshops I process on a 27 inch non-Retina iMac – this is to all intents and purposes a ‘standard gamut’ monitor.

I calibrate my monitors with a ColorMunki Photo – which is a spectrophotometer.  Spectro’s have a tendency to be slow, and slightly problematic in the very darkest tones and exhibit something of a low contrast reaction to ‘blacks’ below around Lab 6.3 (RGB 20,20,20).

If you own a ColorMunki Display or i1Dispaly you do NOT own a spectro, you own a colorimeter!  A very different beast in the way it works, but from a colour point of view they give the same results as a spectro of the same standard – plus, for the most part, they work faster.

However, from a monitor brightness standpoint, they differ from spectros in their slightly better response to those ultra-dark tones.

So from a spectrophotometer standpoint I prefer to calibrate to ISO 12646 standard of 120cdm2 and control my room lighting to around 35-40 Lux.

Just so that you understand just how ‘nit-picking’ these standards are, the difference between 80cdm2 and 120 cdm2 is just 1/2 or 1/3rd of a stop Ev in camera exposure terms, depending on which way you look at it!

However, to put this monitor brightness standard into context, my 27 inch iMac came from Apple running at 290 cdm2 – and cranked up fully it’ll thump out 340 cdm2.

Most stand-alone monitors you buy, especially those that fall under the ‘standard gamut’ banner, will all be running at massively high monitor brightness levels and will require some severe turning down in the calibration process.

You will find that most monitor tests and reviews are done with calibration to the same figures that I have quoted – D65, 120cdm2 and Gamma 2.2 – in fact this non-standard set up has become so damn common it is now ‘standard’ – despite what the ISO chaps may think.

Using these values, printing out of Lightroom for example, becomes a breeze when using printer profiles created to the ICC v2 standard as long as you ‘soft proof’ the image in a fit and proper manner – that means CAREFULLY, take your time.  The one slight shortcoming of the set up is that side by side print/monitor comparisons may look ever so slightly out of kilter because of the D65 monitor white point – 6,500K transmitted white point as opposed to a 5,000K reflective white point.  But a shielded print-viewer should bring all that back into balance if such a thing floats your boat.

But the BIG THING you need to take away from the rather long article is the LOW LUX VALUE of you editing/working area ambient illumination.

Both the ColorMunki Photo and i1Pro2 spectrophotometers will measure your ambient light, as will the ColorMunki Display and i1 Display colorimeters, to name but a few.

But if you measure your ambient light and find the device gives you a reading of more than 50-60 lux then DO NOT ask the device to profile for your ambient light; in fact I would not recommend doing this AT ALL, here’s why.

I have a main office light that is colour corrected to 5000K and it chucks out 127 Lux at the monitor.  If I select the ‘measure and calibrate to ambient’ option on the ColorMunki Photo it eventually tells me I need a monitor brightness or luminance of 80 cdm2 – the only problem is that it gives me the same figure if I drop the ambient lux value to 100.

Now that smells a tad fishy to me……..

So my advice to anyone is to remove the variables, calibrate to 120 cdm2 and work in a very subdued ambient condition of 35 to 40 Lux. I find it easier to control my low lux working ambient light levels than bugger about with over-complex calibration.

To put a final perspective on this figure there is an interesting page on the Apollo Energytech website which quotes lux levels that comply with the law for different work environments – don’t go to B&Q or Walmart to do a spot of processing, and we’re all going to end up doing hard time at Her Madges Pleasure –  law breakers that we are!

Please consider supporting this blog.

This blog really does need your support. All the information I put on these pages I do freely, but it does involve costs in both time and money.

If you find this post useful and informative please could you help by making a small donation – it would really help me out a lot – whatever you can afford would be gratefully received.

Your donation will help offset the costs of running this blog and so help me to bring you lots more useful and informative content.

Many thanks in advance.


Photoshop Save for Web

Save for Web in Photoshop CC 2015 – where the Chuff has it gone?

“Who’s moved my freakin’ cheese?”

Adobe have moved it……..

For years Photoshop has always offered the same ‘Save for Web’ or ‘Save for Web & Devices’ option and dialogue box:

SFW1 900x563 Photoshop Save for Web

The traditional route to the ‘Save for Web’ dialogue in all versions of Photoshop prior to CC 2015.

But Adobe have embarked on a cheese-moving exercise with CC 2015 and moved ‘save for web’ out of the traditional navigation pathway:

SFW2 900x563 Photoshop Save for Web

Adobe have ‘moved your cheese’ to here, though the dialogue and options are the same.

If we take a closer look at that new pathway:

SFW3 Photoshop Save for Web

…we see that wonderful Adobe term ‘Legacy’ – which secretly means crap, shite, old fashioned, out dated, sub standard and scheduled for abandonment and/or termination.

‘THEY’ don’t want you to use it!

I have no idea why they have done this, though there are plenty of excuses being posted by Adobe on the net.  But what is interesting is this page HERE and more to the point this small ‘after thought’:

SFW4 Photoshop Save for Web

That sounds really clever – especially the bit about ‘may be’……. let’s chuck colour management out the freakin’ window and be done!

So if we don’t use the ‘legacy’ option of save for web, let’s see what happens.  Here’s our image, in the ProPhotoRGB colour space open in Photoshop CC 2015:

SFW5 900x563 Photoshop Save for Web

So let’s try the Export>Quick Export as JPG option and bring the result back into Photoshop:

SFW6 900x563 Photoshop Save for Web

Straight away we can see that the jpg is NOT tagged with a colour space, but it looks fine inside the Photoshop CC 2105 work space:

SFW7 900x563 Photoshop Save for Web

“Perfect” – yay!…………NOT!

Let’s open in with an internet browser……

SFW8 900x563 Photoshop Save for Web

Whoopsy – doopsy…!  Looks like a severe colour management problem is happening somewhere……..but Adobe did tell us:

SFW4 Photoshop Save for Web

Might the Export Preferences help us:

SFW9 900x563 Photoshop Save for Web

In a word……..NO

Let’s try Export>Export As:

SFW10 900x563 Photoshop Save for Web

Oh Hell No!

If we open the original image in Photoshop CC 2015 in the ProPhotoRGB colour space and then go Edit>Convert to Profile and select sRGB; then select Export>Quick Export as JPG, the resulting image will look fine in a browser.  But it will still be ‘untagged’ with any colour space – which is never a good idea.

And if you’ve captioned and key worded the image then all that hard work is lost too.

So if you must make your web jpeg images via Photoshop you will only achieve a quick and accurate work flow by using the Save for Web (Legacy) option.  That way you’ll have a correctly ‘tagged’ and converted image complete with all your IPTC key words, caption and title.

Of course you could adopt the same work flow as me, and always export as jpeg out of Lightroom; thus avoiding this mess entirely.

I seriously don’t know what the devil Adobe are thinking of here, and doubtless there is or will be a work around for the problem, but whatever it is it’ll be more work for the photographer.

Adobe – if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it !!


Please consider supporting this blog.

This blog really does need your support. All the information I put on these pages I do freely, but it does involve costs in both time and money.

If you find this post useful and informative please could you help by making a small donation – it would really help me out a lot – whatever you can afford would be gratefully received.

Donations would help offset the costs of running this blog and so help me to bring you lots more useful and informative content.

Many thanks in advance.