schussman.com logo

Today's Lightroom quick tip: Targeted adjustment shortcuts

It’s nice to keep learning things about Lightroom. It tends to have solutions for problems long before I realize that I need them, and so I was happy to find this morning that it has handy shortcuts for all the targeted adjustment brushes.

  • shift-alt-cmd-N: None (cancel adjustment)
  • shift-alt-cmd-T: Tone adjustment
  • shift-alt-cmd-H: Hue adjustment
  • shift-alt-cmd-S: Saturation adjustment
  • shift-alt-cmd-L: Luminance adjustment
  • shift-alt-cmd-G: Grayscale mix

Activating any shortcut will jump your develop panel to the appropriate controller, so you can keep your cursor focused on the image and still see the effects of your adjustments in the sliders or levels. It’s a nice, efficient way to minimize extra mouse movement and make quick modifications.

 

Check out the rest of my Lightroom posts for much, much more, including more database tinkering, keywording, and workflow.

Lightroom antique presets

A couple of years ago I came across Camiel Schoonen’s very well-done set of antique presets for Lightroom/Lightroom 2 (link to flickr discussion page for the presets). They achieve some nice effects, as in my example below from a ride on the Grand Canyon Railway. The modified photo is on top, original beneath:

(link is to flickr photo)

After a laptop transition gone awry, Camiel lost his copies of the presets, but I still have a copy. I’ve forwarded these back to Camiel so he can resume their distribution over at his own site.

Thanks for the great work, Camiel!

Relative sized borders in Lightroom 2

I’m sure the rest of you figured this out ages ago, but it was a new realization to me. In addition to supporting multiple, different borders per image, the LR2/Mogrify border options for Lightroom 2 allow for borders to be applied on three metrics: pixel size, percent of height, and percent of width. That allow, for example, for easy application of letterbox-style top and bottom borders without needing to pay any attention to the cropped dimension of your image.

Screenshot - selecting fixed-percentage borders in Lightroom 2/LR2 Mogrity

The plugin default is in pixels; just switch to percent and you’re off. Something in the range of 10-12% of height seems to suit my eye pretty well.

From Raw to Rawwwr: Lightroom 2 Raw Development for the Rest of Us

I have a casual obsession with Lightroom 2 and have had a load of fun tinkering with the Lightroom catalog database to extract information about my photographs. More recently, I’ve been writing over the past handful of weeks about my workflow in Lightroom 2 from the perspective of an enthusiastic but non-professional user. I’ve previously covered organization and keywords. This time around, the topic is using LR2 to work up raw photos.

Why would one shoot in raw? Raw is an image format meant to preserve as much original image data as possible; that information can be manipulated much more flexibly and effectively than the comparably limited range of image data contained in a JPG or TIFF image. A raw image with bad exposure or white balance can be salvaged, while a JPG — lacking the image information of raw — offers far less latitude for recovery. Meanwhile, JPGs produced by most digital cameras have some amount of sharpening, exposure, and contrast adjustment applied in-camera, while raw images are essentially straight representations of what the camera “saw” when taking the photo. This means that raw images will almost always need a bit of color tweaking and sharpening. Hence the eternal quest for a reliable, easy-to-apply workflow for “developing” raw images to best effect, and the subject that brings me to the MacBook today.

After importing and doing preliminary tagging, flagging and deleting of images, I start in on working up the raw images.

White Balance

White Balance is the first thing to tackle. The point of correcting white balance is to give the right color tone to the “neutral” (white or grey) colors in your image. In other words, you want white to look white. If the WB is off, your photos will have an unnaturally cool or warm cast.

In Lightroom 2, you can adjust white balance in both develop and library modules using presets for different light types, and in the develop module via the temperature sliders. (There are a couple of quick-develop buttons for temperature, but I generally avoid using them.)

The most common white balance adjustment I make starts with selecting the “tungsten” preset. This immediately removes the too-hot feel of photos taken in incandescent light — ie, most sources of indoor, non-flash light.

LR2 screenshot

After using the Tungsten preset, it’s usually necessary to make a few adjustments: This is when I use the Tint and Temperature sliders in the develop module for subtle shifts, often to add just a bit more warmth to the light by nudging the Temp control a tiny bit back to the right. It’s a good idea to swing the Temp control around a bit just to see what kind of difference it makes to give a bit more warmth or coolness to an image.

Mixed light provides a dilemma for white balance. Light from an overhead lamp plus natural sunlight through a window, for example, can be tricky to adjust. I find that setting the Tungsten preset will cool off the overall color cast, but will also amplify the parts of the image that are already a bit cooler — the natural sunlight — giving them a sharp blue tone, especially around highlights. My solution to this is to desaturate the blues a bit, which takes the edge off that coolness. In Lightroom 2, you have even more ability to make that correction by using the adjustment brush to spot-desaturate the highlights that are made too cold by adjusting to Tungsten. The below shot illustrates an image that’s been tweaked by first presetting WB to Tungsten, and then backing off the blue saturation just a few points.

LR2 screenshot

But wait, there’s more! While the Tungsten preset is good, it’s not always quite right. As alternative, use the White Balance Dropper — that’s the dropper button next to the WB selector in the develop module. Click it, then click a spot in your image that should be nice and neutral, a white or grey spot. Presto! Instant white balance. When I can’t quite decide on the right balance, I often use this tool on various spots of the image to quickly try out a range of white balances. The shortcut for the WB dropper is W, which you can use in both grid and develop modes.

Once you’re happy with the white balance of a given image, you can quickly apply those settings to the remainder of similar images with the “sync settings” command: Swap over to grid mode, select the corrected image first, and then click-select the others with similar light, and finally sync ( shift-cmd-S).

There’s much more to the raw workflow: Exposure, sharpening, and so on, and I’ll tackle some of those next time.

My Lightroom 2 Backup Strategy

Related: A more recent post about archive and backup in Lightroom.

With this morning’s comment from martie asking about a crashed hard drive, I got to thinking about making my own Lightroom 2 backup plan a bit more automated and reliable. My general approach is to periodically copy my catalog file and image directories to an external hard drive, but there’s been nothing systematic about it until now.

I’ve previously described a bit of my Lightroom file structure, noting that I import new photos into a single directory per import. As part of a strategy to save space on the MacBook where I do my actual work, I periodically move those folders to an external hard disk currently named Grundle. This is simply a matter of dragging the folder, in the left-hand directories pane of Lightroom, from one hard drive to another.

Lightroom display of multiple drives

While this copying step is manual, the rest of the system is now automated, thanks to this tutorial at MacResearch and a bash script by Aidan Clark. The bash script took just a bit of tinkering to work with Lightroom’s catalog file, which by default will have rsync-breaking spaces in it, and to perform the second backup from the external volume to the iMac. I’ll post those specific and very minor modifications if there is interest.

Here’s the final result: Using OS X’s launchd tool, whenever I mount Grundle on my MacBook, whether via network or direct firewire connection, my Lightroom 2 catalog file is copied to Grundle using rsync. And, whenever I mount Grundle on the upstairs iMac, a similar combination of launchd and rsync copies both the catalog file and the image directories from Grundle to the iMac. This means that in the course of regular use of my two Macs and that external drive, both my Lightroom catalog and folders full of images get backed up.

One caveat to this system is that the backup of the image folders still involves that manual step of moving them from the laptop to Grundle. I could automate this the same way the catalog backup is done, but that could potentially mean trying to backup a gig or more at a time over the wifi network — a time- and bandwidth- consuming process that isn’t really necessary. Now, the obvious down-side is that the newest photos I’ve taken are always the ones most vulnerable to data loss, and that’s obviously not a highly desirable thing. But I’m satisfied with my current workflow of moving folders to Grundle generally when I’m done working with that set of images. I’ll continue to think about this situation and may come up with some additional redundancy for that stage of processing.

Update: Okay, I buckled. A bit more tinkering and I now have my current folders of raw images copied to Grundle. After I relocate the folder using Lightroom, the folder will disappear from the backup directory, so I don’t have redundant backup files stacking up anywhere. Nice and clean, and everything’s safe.

Update the second: One item I neglected to mention in the original post was the automated backup feature built in to Lightroom: Available in the catalog settings menu (alt-cmd-,) this feature performs scheduled backups of your catalog file only, to a location you specify, and can be set to run a backup on any of several schedules. My process above includes allowing that backup to run weekly — it never hurts to have a little more failsafe security. The benefit of automating getting that backup to another hard drive is one more important layer of keeping safe your data.

Keywords in Lightroom

[ Interested in my keywording workflow or duplicate keywords posts? ]

 

The last time I wrote about Lightroom, I was using sqlite to pull out frequencies of focal length. This time it’s keywords: Lightroom lets you build any number of custom keyword sets to apply to photos. It automatically builds a set of “recently used” keywords, but I thought it would also be handy to have a set of my most commonly-used keywords. While Lightroom has a command to export a list of keywords, that list doesn’t include frequencies. Keywords are stored in Lightroom in a table called AgLibraryTag (AgLibraryKeyword in Lightroom 2, see update below). Conveniently, Lightroom writes a count of each keyword to the same table, so it’s easy to get out all the information we need. (Note: The frequency in this table is a cached value and may not reflect the up-to-the-minute reality within your database. Rather than constantly update its databases Lightroom seems to update this count when you view the discrete keywords. I’m not sure how to force a library-wide update of all keyword counts. This is probably close enough, and is simpler/quicker than counting keywords image-by-image.)

Rather than run this data through R to build a histogram as I did with the focal length data, I just use awk this time to make a list with the most frequently-used tags at the bottom. With this list, you can easily build a corresponding tag set in Lightroom.

Remember to change paths to suit, and that (on OSX) you’ll probably need to upgrade your version of sqlite for all this to work. Also, always always work from a copy of your database as this script does.

# display a sorted list of lightroom keywords (Lightroom 1 only) cp ~/Pictures/Lightroom/Lightroom\ Catalog.lrcat ~/lightroom.lrdb /usr/local/bin/sqlite3 -csv ~/lightroom.lrdb 'select ImageCountCache, name from AgLibraryTag where kindName="AgKeywordTagKind";' > /Users/alan/lr-keywords.csv awk -F , '{print $1" "$2}' lr-keywords.csv | sort -n rm ~/lightroom.lrdb rm ~/lr-keywords.csv

Daydream: A map of how keywords relate to one another would be awesome.

Update: The above daydream is now possible with Lightroom 2’s related keywords functionality. Write-up here.

Update again (Oct 4 2008): The old code didn’t work with Lightroom 2 due to some things moving around in the database. The below seems to fix it and obtain keyword frequencies for LR2:

# display a sorted list of lightroom keywords # Updated for Lightroom 2 cp ~/Pictures/Lightroom/Lightroom\ 2\ Catalog.lrcat ~/lightroom.lrdb /usr/local/bin/sqlite3 -csv ~/lightroom.lrdb 'select ImageCountCache, name from AgLibraryKeyword;' > /Users/alan/lr-keywords.csv awk -F , '{print $1" "$2}' lr-keywords.csv | sort -n rm ~/lightroom.lrdb rm ~/lr-keywords.csv


About, the short version

I’m a sociologist-errant. This site is powered by Textpattern, TextDrive and the sociological imagination. For more about me and this site, see the long version.

Copyright and so forth: Commenters own their own posts, and linked or excerpted material is subject to whatever copyright covers the original. Everything else here is mine, rights reserved.

RSS feed