Five Reasons Why I Finally Bit the Bullet Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

When Adobe announced that they were transitioning their apps to a subscription model of the Adobe Creative Cloud in 2013, I almost fell out of my chair while clutching the cardboard box for my copy of Lightroom 4. It seemed absolutely crazy to me that Adobe would ask photographers and other creative professionals to spend money every month subscribing for software that they could simply buy once and use forever.

In the years that followed I resisted moving to Creative Cloud and continued to buy new versions of Lightroom one by one until a few months ago when I finally bit the bullet and subscribed. I was one of Adobe’s harshest critics in those intervening years and staunchly refused to buy into Creative Cloud for several reasons until I realized five important things that finally got me to switch over.

Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud - couple portrait

Much of my hesitation to switch was due to the fact that I didn’t really understand the service Adobe was offering with their Creative Cloud Photography plan. That’s the one that lets you have Lightroom and Photoshop for $10/month.

What I failed to recognize was that Lightroom and Photoshop are just the tips of the iceberg, and there’s a whole slew of additional Adobe services that users have access to with a CC subscription. None of these by themselves are worth the price but when you examine all the ancillary benefits you get alongside great software it makes the idea of renting the software I used to own a lot more palatable.

Syncing between Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC

When you subscribe to the Photography plan you get two versions of Lightroom, each with unique features and benefits designed to cater to specific types of photography workflows.

Lightroom Classic CC is the name of the traditional desktop app that has been around since 2007, now available only through a Creative Cloud subscription. This is for desktop-centric workflows where all your photos reside on a single computer.

Lightroom CC is a new different version of Lightroom designed for a cloud-centric workflow where all your photos reside in the cloud and can be edited anywhere – in a browser, on a tablet, on a phone, or even using Lightroom CC on a desktop computer.

What you might not realize is that you can use both of these programs together, with the key difference being the location where your original pictures actually reside. If you are accustomed to a traditional desktop-centric workflow you can use Lightroom Classic CC to sync specific albums in the Cloud.

This basically uploads low-resolution preview files of your photos to your Creative Cloud account. These previews, then, can be edited anywhere using Lightroom CC and the next time you load Lightroom Classic CC on your desktop all your edits are automatically synced to your original photos and catalog file.

photo editing in Lightroom CC - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

I started editing this photo on my computer in Lightroom Classic CC. Then I pulled it up in my browser and made additional changes which were synced back to my desktop.

The key difference between both types of workflows is that when using albums published to the cloud from Lightroom Classic CC, your originals remain on your desktop which means you can’t export high-resolution images from Lightroom CC. However, for photographers who want to edit their pictures on the go and then return to their desktop for any final tweaking and exporting, this is an outstanding solution and one that could make the difference to those on the fence about subscribing.

One final note about this: The $9.99 Photography Plan includes 20GB of cloud storage, but the albums that you publish to the cloud from Lightroom Classic do not count against that 20GB. This is because they use low-resolution previews instead of your actual images which is fine for flagging, cropping, keywording, color correcting, and most of the other adjustments you would want to make on a mobile device.

family photo in Lightroom - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

Having access to my photos on mobile has sped up my culling process enormously. It’s much faster for me to flag, reject, and rate photos on my iPad and the results are synced right back to my iMac in Lightroom Classic CC.

Photoshop is Included

I’ll be the first to admit that even though I call myself a photographer I rarely use Adobe Photoshop and instead do most of my post-processing in Lightroom. I do, however, have an old copy of Photoshop CS5 that I bought about eight years ago which I use when I really need to do some heavy processing.

But it’s slow, lacks a lot of modern features, and has an interface and layout that is confusing, to say the least. It also crashes on me a lot which doesn’t exactly help matters whenever I do need to use it.

Despite these issues, the fact that Photoshop is included did not do much to initially sway my barometer when it came to shelling out $9.99 each month for the Creative Cloud Photography plan. I forced myself to get by with what I had even though it was not really suiting my needs anymore.

image in Photoshop - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

But the more I thought about subscribing to Creative Cloud the more I realized how nice it would be to have the full version of Photoshop ready when I needed it.

No need to think about buying, upgrading, or figuring out whether the version I had would really be current with the latest online tutorials. It just started to make sense for a small-time photographer like me to pay what really is a modest monthly fee to have the latest and greatest tools at my disposal for when I needed them.

Since I don’t use Photoshop all that often it would not be worth the price of a Creative Cloud plan by itself, but combined with everything else it sure did make a lot of sense.

Share albums publicly

I take a lot of photos of family, friends, and events just for personal use and like most people, I enjoy sharing these images with others. Until subscribing to Adobe Creative Cloud my workflow for this type of sharing was somewhat convoluted and involved exporting small-sized images from Lightroom, saving them to a Dropbox shared folder, generating a public link, and sending that out to others.

I couldn’t do much in the way of limiting access privileges either, and meanwhile, the images were taking up space in my Dropbox account that is perpetually near its limit anyway.

Now my process is much simpler, a lot more efficient, and results in a greater degree of control over what I can actually let other people do with my images. After publishing an album to the cloud from Lightroom Classic CC you can log in to Lightroom on the web, on mobile, or just load up Lightroom CC and generate a public link for any synced album.

Moreover, you can get an embed code, choose to allow downloads and show metadata, and even let people filter the photos according to Flag status.

album sharing - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

While the images that are publicly viewable using this method are the low-resolution previews and not full-size images for printing, they are more than enough for most people.

The tradeoff in terms of overall simplicity and ease of use is more than worth it for me, and I’m not taking up valuable space in my Dropbox account or other file-sharing services.

Adobe portfolio

This might not be useful for some photographers but I have found Adobe Portfolio to be an incredible asset as a Creative Cloud subscriber and it really was one of the primary reasons I eventually chose to upgrade. Previously I was paying a service nearly $100/year for my photography website. But when I realized that Adobe Portfolio could do everything I need and was included with a Creative Cloud subscription I canceled my other hosting service and moved everything over to Adobe.

adobe portfolio - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Portfolio won’t give you the fanciest website in the world, but it could very well get the job done for you at not much more than what you are paying for a website now.

All Creative Cloud subscribers have access to Adobe Portfolio which, though not as full-featured as some of the other hosting providers, is more than enough for my needs and possibly yours as well. As an added bonus it syncs with Lightroom so I can create albums on my computer and have them synced automatically with my website. Something that was not possible at all with my previous hosting company.

If you are at all interested in Creative Cloud but unsure about the $9.99 monthly fee, I recommend looking at your current website hosting solution and comparing it to Adobe Portfolio. It is quite likely that the latter could suit your needs just fine and end up only costing you a bit more than what you are already paying for a website.

adobe portfolio - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

Adobe Portfolio doesn’t have the breadth of features offered by other website platforms, but it does have a decent selection of themes and some solid options for photographers who want a simple, effective way to showcase their work online.

The price was right

As I looked at all the features offered by Adobe Creative Cloud I kept on coming back to the monthly fee, and for years I just couldn’t reconcile the idea of being locked into a perpetual contract just to use software that I could go out and buy once but use forever. However, I kept coming back to other software I had purchased like Aperture, Final Cut Express, and even other Adobe apps like Fireworks that simply wouldn’t run on my computer anymore.

Sure I had bought these apps but as time went on the only way to use them was to purchase new versions anyway. In the meantime by not upgrading I was losing out on the bug fixes, added features, and overall speed improvements offered by their newer counterparts. In some cases, like Final Cut Express, apps were simply deprecated by their developers leaving me with no choice but to upgrade anyway.

software - Five Reasons Why I Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud

I’ve paid hundreds of dollars over the years for software that I can’t use anymore, or won’t be able to use in the near future because it has been deprecated by its developers.

I still don’t like the idea of being locked into a monthly fee for software but when I considered all the benefits that came with what really was a modest price (only about $30 more than I was paying just for my website) the choice became clear. I’m not saying that Creative Cloud is right for everybody but it was definitely the right choice for me and, depending on your needs, it could be right for you too.

The post Five Reasons Why I Finally Bit the Bullet Switched to Adobe Creative Cloud appeared first on Digital Photography School.

The Importance of Getting the Image Right In-Camera

When you strive to get your images right in-camera at the moment you take them you’re going to reap many benefits that you might not even realize.

“Just Photoshop it” has become a recurring theme in photography when it comes to fixing image errors. Depending on who you talk to it can seem like Photoshop is a magic pill that will solve all manner of photographic problems. While it’s true that image-editing applications can help deal with a variety of issues, from correcting exposure to removing objects to swapping a cloudy sky for a sunny one, there’s a lot to be said for the philosophy of using as little editing as possible.

The Importance of Getting the Image Right In-Camera - butterfly on a red flower

I didn’t need Photoshop to get this image. Instead, I needed to get up early, know where the light was coming from, and understand how to use my camera equipment.

This is a tricky subject to tackle because there is so much wiggle room when it comes to defining what the term in-camera really means. To some, it means allowing for no post-production at all, even simple cropping. Others define it as getting things mostly correct at the time you press the shutter button, even though some basic adjustments such as straightening or exposure correction might be needed later.

There are photographers for whom getting it right in-camera means looking out for background obstacles, stray hairs, or wayward arms and legs that might otherwise ruin a good picture.

I don’t like to get caught up in the minutia of what in-camera means. But I will say that if you can strive to have more aspects of a picture correct at the time you make the image, the end result will be that much better.

This holds true for most types of photography save for the outlier examples like extreme focus stacking in macro photography or the types of artistic creations and collages that require post-processing.

two kids with arms around each other - The Importance of Getting the Image Right In-Camera

An ounce of prevention

There’s an old bit of wisdom you might have heard that goes like this:

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

It applies to many areas of life and the same holds true for photography as well. If you can take a few seconds to fix problematic areas at the time you take a picture it will save you untold minutes or even hours back at your computer. This took me a while to learn when I first got started with portrait photography. But the more I operate by this philosophy the more efficient my workflow becomes.

portrait of 3 ladies - The Importance of Getting the Image Right In-Camera

Do you see the green recycle bin on the left side of the photo? It might not look like much, but if this is printed on a large canvas it would stick out like a sore thumb. Background distractions like that are much easier to fix by adjusting things during the session instead of spending time Photoshopping each image later.

Years ago the only things I knew to look for when taking pictures of clients were things like smiling faces and good posing. As such, I often found myself banging my head against my keyboard while going through my Lightroom catalog afterwards because of unwanted distractions in my photos.

Automobiles, pedestrians, trash cans, litter, animals, street lights, and a host of other imperfections can all be fixed in Photoshop but it’s so much easier to just make sure they don’t even show up in your photos in the first place.

portrait 3 ladies in trees - The Importance of Getting the Image Right In-Camera

Eventually, I did see the recycle bin so I altered my point of view just slightly, which took a few seconds but saved me a lot of post-processing time.

This works for other things too like stray hairs, bits of dirt and debris that can get blown around and land on clients, or unwieldy shirts that like to get un-tucked. These problems can all be solved to some degree or another using computer software but it’s never going to be as fast or simple as just dealing with them when they occur.

The trick to doing this is to be looking out for such things at the time of the photo shoot. That is what took me so long to really learn, and to be honest I’m still learning even now! There are so many things to look out for when taking pictures. That background flotsam or bits of rubbish on the ground might be the last thing on your mind, but they can easily ruin a photo or at the very least cause you to spend much more time eliminating them afterwards than you would like.

My best advice to you in this regard is to simply train yourself to be aware. Look at your surroundings in addition to your subjects, and work on seeing background elements and other distractions that might normally escape your eye.

When you see things, take corrective action and even let your clients in on what’s going on. I have paused many photo sessions to say things like, “Oh no, there’s a street sign in the way behind you. Let’s all take a few steps this way…” and every time it has been appreciated by the people who are paying me to do a good job. It sends a message that you know what you are doing and care enough to get the shots right.

portrait of tweens - The Importance of Getting the Image Right In-Camera

A more extreme version of this, but one that’s just as important, is to take note of problematic points that cannot be altered in Photoshop and deal with them at the time of the photo session.

Issues like sign posts sticking out of heads, heads turned in the wrong direction, hands in awkward places, or having people with complementary outfits in close proximity to one another can easily ruin an otherwise outstanding photo session and are all but impossible to fix in post-production. The more you look for these problems and fix them on the spot, the better your photography will be.

Lighting and exposure

Years ago with early digital cameras, it was crucial to get the exposure just right at the time you took a photo. But today’s digital cameras have such incredible dynamic range that you can clean up a great deal of exposure issues in post-production. However, this should be used as a last resort and not relied on as a general rule, almost like a safety net below a trapeze artist.

When shooting in RAW you can lower highlights, raise shadows, and adjust color all day long to get just the right look you are aiming for. This is a huge benefit if you are doing work for clients. It’s even useful if you just want to squeeze the most out of your shots as a casual photographer. This type of exposure correction has saved my bacon more times than I can count when doing work for clients.

expecting couple in silhouette - The Importance of Getting the Image Right In-Camera

This couple was severely backlit which made for a very challenging photo situation.

Despite the flexibility of the RAW format and the editing possibilities offered by many photography applications such as Lightroom, Photoshop, and Luminar – you will find that it’s best to mitigate potential exposure and lighting issues at the time you take the photo instead of on your computer.

It’s not that you can’t fix exposure issues in post-production later, but that if simple exposure adjustments can make them disappear before you even take a picture then why would you want to spend time fixing it later?

The Importance of Getting the Image Right In-Camera

It took a lot of editing to wrangle a good result from the RAW file, but I could have just adjusted my exposure settings on the spot and saved myself a lot of time afterwards.

Your time is valuable

The more time I spend as a photographer the more valuable I realize my time really is. Even if you are a working professional who makes 100% of your income from photography, the less time you have to spend editing your images to fix exposure issues means more time doing other things that would help you hone your craft or grow your business. Or time you can spend with your family!

Even though you can fix a host of photographic issues ex post facto there’s no substitute for doing what you can to get it right in-camera and make sure those issues never even happen in the first place. Aside from saving yourself untold hours of time fiddling with sliders and layers on your computer, you will also be growing your skills as a photographer.

It will take some practice as you learn to reduce unwanted distractions and get accurate exposure settings when you press the shutter button. But you will reap rewards in terms of knowledge, confidence, and sheer experience. In the end, the result will be better photos taken by a better photographer, and that’s the kind of benefit you just can’t get by moving sliders around in Lightroom.

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Adobe Portfolio – This Unsung Hero of Creative Cloud Could Save You Money

I have used Adobe Lightroom since version 4 in 2012. After upgrading to version 5 and 6 in the following years, have really grown to appreciate its workflow, comprehensive suite of editing tools and the digital asset management.

When Adobe switched to a subscription model for Lightroom and announced they would no longer offer the product as a standalone license, I started looking at other options because I didn’t want to be locked into a perpetual pricing model. I was already paying nearly $100/year for a website and as a hobbyist photographer with a family and a full-time job, the thought of paying another $120/year for Lightroom seemed crazy.

That is until I discovered Adobe Portfolio and had a complete change of heart.

Adobe Portfolio website landing page

A bit of background

In 2015 I got serious about doing photography work for clients. At that time, I recognized the need to have a professional easy-to-use website to attract clients and showcase my work. I tried a number of options before settling on Squarespace.

Their $96/year fee was entirely reasonable to me because it provided access to dozens of templates as well as a worry-free website I did not have to update or maintain like a self-hosted WordPress installation requires. I appreciated how easy Squarespace was to use as well as its rich set of features including blogging, podcasting, and even tools for buying and selling goods and services.

A few years later as I was investigating software options to replace Lightroom, I stumbled across Adobe Portfolio entirely by accident. I certainly never intended this barely-mentioned service to be the fulcrum on which my decision to subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan would rest!

The more I examined what Portfolio had to offer the more I realized that the subscription which includes Portfolio along with Lightroom and Photoshop would be ideal for my needs as a part-time photographer.

This is the homepage for my own Adobe Portfolio site. When users hover over one of the sections with their cursor it shows the name of that particular photo gallery.

 

While Squarespace handled all my website needs with aplomb, it also offered many things I did not use at all. Portfolio, on the other hand, is almost anemic by comparison but uniquely suited to fit the basic needs of most photographers.

It does not have all the options, tools, integrations, and flexibility of other platforms including Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and WordPress. But as a photographer who just wanted a simple way to showcase my work, it fit the bill perfectly.

For me the choice was clear. I could sign up for the Creative Cloud Photography plan for only a few dollars more than what I was paying for my Squarespace website and get Lightroom, Photoshop, and a beautiful website that did everything I needed. I canceled my Squarespace account, signed up for Creative Cloud, and couldn’t be any more pleased with how things have worked out.

Start with a theme

If you have a Creative Cloud plan you already have access to Portfolio and you can get started by visiting myportfolio.com and entering your Adobe ID. After that, you begin the process of building your website by selecting a theme. Right away you may notice one of the significant shortcomings of Portfolio compared to other website services. There are only eight themes from which to choose. This dearth of options can be a source of frustration if you’re used to a myriad of themes on other platforms.

Adobe Portfolio themes

Some photographers might balk in horror at the idea of only having eight template options but I saw it as a way of streamlining my design approach. I couldn’t spend hours poring over different templates if I only had eight to choose from, so it only took me a few minutes to select one that suited my tastes just fine.

The templates do allow for some editing and customization but you are limited to the basic look and feel of how they are laid out. This approach is similar to how many mainstream website platforms operate and is well suited to photographers who would rather spend their time taking and editing pictures instead of poring over lines of HTML code.

It’s also worth noting that you can change templates at any time. So if you are not sure where to start you can just pick one that you like and begin editing with the freedom to change it later. I settled on the Mathias template but any of the eight options would work well for photographers who want a simple, pleasing, and functional website.

Lightroom Integration

The ace in the hole for Portfolio and a standout feature that allows it to really shine despite its lean feature set is the way that it integrates seamlessly with Lightroom. This is a huge boon for photographers who rely on Lightroom for their editing and digital asset management, and one of the big reasons it makes sense to consider Portfolio as a worthwhile website platform.

On the editing screen, there is a giant blue Add Content button which gives you access to four different options: Page, Lightroom Album, Gallery, and Link. Any photo collections in Lightroom CC, or those you have synced with Lightroom CC from Lightroom Classic CC, will show up as options when you click Lightroom Album. There is no need to export images and upload them individually. Choose Lightroom Album and the full Lightroom Web interface will load which will let you select any of the albums to be automatically displayed on your website.

You can also manually upload pictures via drag-and-drop interface but I found it much easier to manage images by loading them from Lightroom.

add content Adobe Portfolio

Editing Website Content

In addition to loading images directly from Lightroom, you can create content right from within Portfolio. This is useful if you want a few image galleries to showcase your work while also having elements like an About Me and pricing pages. Individual pages can contain blocks of text and images with captions, and elements can be re-ordered using a simple drag-and-drop interface. There’s even an option for inserting a Contact page which can contain many different fields that you are free to customize.

After creating a Page, Lightroom Album, or Gallery the ever-present floating menu lets you edit the unique characteristics of the element you just created. This floating menu took me a little while to get used to but now I don’t mind it at all.

My contact page using Portfolio.

It never really goes away but you can expand and collapse the panes and use the three horizontal lines at the top to move it around so it’s not in your way. While you can’t go so far as editing the actual CSS code you can make changes to things like background color, page header, and fonts.

editing options Adobe Portfolio

It won’t take you long to get the hang of this workflow but you also may get frustrated at what initially feels like a criminal lack of options. As you poke around with the tools available you will likely hit some brick walls, just as I did, when you find out you can’t insert pull-quote text boxes, customize the appearance of individual blocks of text, or embed elements such as a blog feed. Slideshow options are limited as well, and this is where some people might hang their head in frustration and run back to WordPress with open arms.

However, keep in mind that the purpose of Adobe Portfolio is to offer a simple way for photographers to showcase their work. It’s not supposed to be a comprehensive all-in-one web publishing platform, and within the context of that framework, the limitations in terms of choices and options make a little more sense. You can add a custom logo, change the appearance of your pages, embed dozens of web elements, and even password-protect your site if you so choose.

site options box - Adobe Portfolio

Portfolio lets you use a custom domain name as well, and though this process is fairly straightforward it does add a little extra to the cost of the service. Portfolio nor Adobe cannot actually register your domain so you will need to go to a third-party site like Dreamhost, Hover, or Register to set it up. Most domain names cost about $15/year which isn’t much but it does bring the total cost to around $135/year when you add that to a Creative Cloud subscription.

setting up your page in Adobe Portfolio

The Happy Middle Ground

The entire idea of a website might seem like somewhat of an anachronism in today’s social media-saturated internet. Many photographers have elected to forego a traditional web presence entirely in favor of building a brand and following on social media.

The downside of this approach is that your audience experience can be tainted by design decisions and embedded advertising entirely beyond your control, and there are always going to be a subset of potential clients who choose not to engage on social media at all and will, therefore, miss out on the chance to view your work.

My family portrait gallery.

Websites might not have the shine and excitement that they once did but there are still plenty of good reasons to build and maintain your own presence on the internet. To that end, Adobe Portfolio offers a compelling set of features for literally no cost at all if you already subscribe to any of Adobe’s Creative Cloud plans.

If you don’t currently subscribe to Creative Cloud but do pay a third-party provider to host your website you might want to give Portfolio a second look. Think of it as paying about the same as you are now for a website, but with the added bonus of world-class photography software like Lightroom and Photoshop thrown in at no extra charge.

Adobe Portfolio options

Your opinion of Adobe Portfolio will likely depend on your needs for a website and your expectations of what Portfolio can offer. If you want an extensive do-everything website solution, Portfolio is going to fall short in many respects and you’d be better off with something like Squarespace.

But if you want a simple platform that lets you display your work for the world to see, in a manner that you choose, without any intrusive third-party advertising or corporate mining of your personal data, I can’t recommend Portfolio highly enough.

Rating: 5/5

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Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Lightroom is anything but intuitive for new photographers. Its multitude of panels, sliders, menus, and buttons are enough to make your head spin. But fortunately, there’s hope for even the most beleaguered beginner.

Amid all the options and icons is a single panel in the Develop module that can handle most of the basic editing tasks you are likely to need on any given image. Appropriately titled “Basic,” this one panel contains a plethora of sliders each with its own unique effect.

Once you get the hang of these you’ll start to feel right at home with the way Lightroom works. The first step in becoming familiar with the Basic panel is understanding what each of the sliders does, so let’s examine each of them in detail.

maternity photo - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

You and Lightroom: A match made in heaven

The Lightroom Basic Panel

The Basic panel is broken into three general areas; WB (or White Balance), Tone, and Presence.

Each has a few sliders that control specific types of edits and it’s not uncommon for 95% of your editing to be done right within this one panel.

Despite its meek-sounding name, the Basic panel is a powerful and highly effective tool that you can use to give your images the type of punch visual appeal you need.

Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

These sliders are in the Basic panel, but they can do quite a lot.

The Temp Slider

Lightroom’s nomenclature can seem somewhat daunting, especially if you don’t have a background in photography or image manipulation. Temp is the abbreviated form of Temperature, though a true beginner would be forgiven for thinking it simply meant Temporary (Lightroom is not good at helping people learn these sorts of things.)

The temperature of an image, broadly speaking, is how warm or cool it appears. If you really want to dig deeper with White Balance this article is a good place to start.

Move the slider to the left and it will give your image a blue tint, but move it to the right and it will appear to have a yellow cast. If you are editing a JPG image this slider will let you change the value to ± 100, whereas shooting in RAW lets you go from 2,000 to 50,000.

The reason it’s called Temp is that you are adjusting the degrees Kelvin temperature of the white level of the photo. But you don’t need to know all the technical terminology to get good results. If a picture feels too cold or too warm, adjusting this one slider can go a long way towards fixing your photo.

Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom - white balance temp slider

The Tint Slider

This slider works in tandem with Temp to give your image just the right color cast. As you slide Temp back and forth, your White Balance will get closer to where you want it, but it might result in an image that looks somewhat green or red. You can then use the Tint slider to fix that, giving your image just the right look and feel.

If you prefer Lightroom to do a bit of the heavy lifting for you, you can use the large eyedropper icon in the top-left corner of the Basic panel to get your image most of the way towards a proper White Balance and Tint.

Click the eyedropper and then click on a light gray (not pure white) area of your image. Lightroom will adjust the Temp and Tint sliders to what it thinks are the best values for your image. It’s a good starting point and will often get you pretty close to the look you want.

tint slider magenta to green - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Exposure Slider

Move this slider and you’ll quickly get an idea of what it does. It simply makes your picture brighter or darker. This is a global adjustment that affects all areas of the image including the light parts, mid-tones, and dark portions all get brighter or darker when you move the slider left or right. (Note: The Exposure slider mostly affects mid-tones although other tones are also affected.)

You can see this reflected in the histogram above the Basic panel. Move the slider to the left or right and the entire graph moves to the left or right.

Exposure is often used to compensate for when a picture doesn’t come out right from the camera. This usually happens if the camera wasn’t metering the scene properly or exposure compensation was enabled by mistake.

Exposure is like a blunt instrument that goes a long way towards making dark images lighter or light images darker. Then you can use additional sliders in the Tone section to fine-tune your picture.

exposure slider - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Contrast Slider

You might have seen a slider like this on your TV. If you have ever adjusted the values, you probably noticed that as contrast increases, the picture also gets more vivid and punchier. That’s because higher contrast results in a greater degree of variance between light and dark areas.

The same holds true for the Contrast slider in the Lightroom Basic panel. Move the Contrast slider to the right and the bright areas will get brighter while simultaneously making the dark areas darker.

Contrast can also have a negative value which makes your image seem almost hazy since the farther you move the slider to the left the less difference there is between light and dark areas.

Most photographers don’t find negative contrast values particularly useful. But it can come in handy depending on the type of style you are going for in your image editing.

contrast slider - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Highlights Slider

This slider, in conjunction with Shadows, works especially well if you shoot in RAW format. That is because much of your image data that might be discarded in a JPG file is still available to you when editing RAW files.

When you move the Highlights slider to the left it makes only the bright parts of your image darker. Conversely, when you move it to the right the bright parts get even brighter.

This works wonders on images where some parts are properly exposed but other parts are blown out and you want to decrease the exposure of just the bright parts.

Highlights slider - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Shadows Slider

Whereas the Highlights slider only affects the bright portions of an image, the Shadows slider lets you adjust the degree to which the dark areas get lightened.

Many photographers begin their editing by moving the Highlights and Shadows sliders, often by moving Highlights to the left just a bit and Shadows to the right. This will make dark portions of the image brighter while simultaneously making bright portions darker.

Some image editing programs only allow you to bring the highlights down and shadows up, but Lightroom takes a slightly different approach. You can, if you so choose, make the bright areas even brighter and the dark areas even darker by moving the sliders to the right and left, respectively.

Most photographers don’t take this approach but it’s nice to know you have it available if you want to use it.

Shadows slider - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Whites Slider

While the Whites slider might seem somewhat similar to Highlights, it doesn’t actually adjust the brightness of lighter portions of an image. Rather, it makes the whiter areas more white. The effect might seem subtle, but careful adjustment of the Whites and Blacks sliders can have a similar effect to the Contrast slider but it offers you more fine-grain control over the outcome.

I often begin with a +25 adjustment on the Whites slider just to give my images a bit more punch and brightness and then adjust it as needed.

It’s easy to overdo it when adjusting the Whites slider. You might find that going much past 50 will give your images a strange and unnatural look so take care when editing that you don’t overdo it.

You can also get good results by moving the Whites slider to the right while also moving the Highlights to the left. This tends to result in a bit more even-handed editing while giving your images the added spark you might be looking for.

whites slider - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Blacks Slider

The Blacks slider works just like the Whites slider but in reverse. It makes the dark portions of an image more pure black which can give a nice sense of contrast and tone to a photo.

When you first adjust this slider it might seem like it has the same effect as the Shadows slider, but careful examination reveals a subtle difference in that it is not actually making the dark portions brighter or darker, but adjusting the intensity how black the darkest portions are.

Similar to the Whites slider you might get good results by lowering the black levels and then increasing shadow detail just a bit.

blacks slider - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Clarity Slider

Of all the sliders in the Basic panel, Clarity is probably the one that is the least understood and depending on who you talk to, the most abused. Clarity does not adjust the overall contrast of an image but instead, it adjusts what’s known as edge contrast.

Whenever there are harsh lines or edges, adjusting the clarity slider to the right will make them stand out and have a little more pop or visual punch than they otherwise might. Moving it too far to the right will result in images that look artificial and unnatural, but it can be useful to use high values if they get you the result you want.

Conversely, you can move Clarity to the left to make your images appear softer and almost a bit ethereal.

Keen image editors will note that the Adjustment Brush tool contains an option called Skin Smoothing which is merely a -40 Clarity adjustment that you can paint in wherever you want. Using this on a person’s face has the effect of removing the appearance of pores and even small hairs that can, if overused, lend an unnaturally smooth look that you might see in magazines or other media.

Clarity slider - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Dehaze Slider

Arriving a few years ago for Lightroom Creative Cloud users, the Dehaze slider does pretty much what its name suggests, although the results are not always as good as what users might want.

The idea of the Dehaze slider is that by moving it to the right on images with a bit of a foggy or hazy appearance, you can mitigate some of the issues causes lens imperfections or atmospheric intrusions.

It’s not a perfect solution, but if used in the right conditions it can go a long way towards fixing an image that might have otherwise ended up in the rejected pile.

dehaze slider - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Vibrance Slider

Have you ever taken a picture that you thought would look awesome, but after importing it into Lightroom, just seemed kind of dull and boring? As if the lifeblood had somehow been sucked out of its colors? Vibrance aims to fix that and it works especially well on images of nature and landscapes.

Whereas saturation adjusts the overall color intensity of an entire image, Vibrance works by making duller colors more vivid. It’s also smart enough to leave skin tones alone which means you can make a scene look a little more interesting and colorful without resulting in portraits that are unnatural or oversaturated.

Vibrance slider - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Saturation Slider

This option can take even the dullest and most boring image and add a massive punch of color. Or it can be used to turn vibrant pictures into faded black-and-white versions.

When you slide the Saturation slider to the right it increases the value of all the colors in an image, whereas moving it to the left has the opposite effect and can eliminate all color entirely.

Similar to the clarity slider, saturation is powerful but easy to overuse and I find that it’s best when adjusted in relatively small amounts.

saturation on a portrait - Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom

Conclusion

If you are new to Lightroom and unsure of where to even begin, the Basic panel is a great way to get you where you might be trying to go.

Even though the goal of this guide was to give you a good understanding of the sliders in this panel the best way to learn is to try it out for yourself. Open up some images and start using the sliders and see what you can do with them. You might be surprised at your results!

Remember that Lightroom is non-destructive so you can always undo your changes which makes it even easier to edit or just experiment for fun.

The post Unlocking the Power of the Basic Panel in Lightroom appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshots, and Virtual Copies

I often find myself knee-deep into editing a photo when an idea hits me to try something totally different. Maybe it’s exploring different cropping options, creating a black-and-white version, or getting crazy with the adjustment brush. One useful feature of a Lightroom editing workshop is that it gives you the flexibility to explore as many different paths as you want for a picture. While always giving you the freedom to jump back to different editing points or start over entirely.

Three of the best ways to do that are with the History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copy options. Let’s dig deeper into each one separately.

butterfly on a red flower - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

Lightroom History

Decades ago in the early days of personal computers, you were lucky if you could click undo more than once. Even the first version of Photoshop did not allow more than one undo!

This meant that you had to be extraordinarily careful when creating or editing digital images because any changes were basically permanent. Whereas today most programs allow virtually limitless error-correction when it comes to undoing your work. Lightroom is no different and if you want to fix a mistake just choose Edit > Undo and any errors or changes will be immediately wiped away.

Better than undo

History in Lightroom is sort of like undo but it is infinitely more flexible. It’s a veritable time machine that gives you the freedom to revert back to any aspect of your editing even if you have made dozens and dozens of changes to an image.

Whereas Undo lets you go back to earlier versions of your image one step at a time, the History panel actually lists all the changes made since you imported an image into your Catalog including the numerical values of each edit. If you make a change that involves a numerical value those will show up in the History panel as well, including the amount of the change and the resulting value.

For example, if you adjust the Exposure by +0.5, the History panel will show you Exposure +0.50 and then the resulting exposure value of +0.50. If you make another exposure adjustment of 0.2, you will see that in the History panel along with a final value of +0.70. This helps you see a written description of all the edits you have made to an image as they were applied.

lightroom history - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

The complete history of all my edits to the butterfly image at the top of this article. Clicking on any of the edits listed will instantly let me jump back in time to that particular step of the editing process.

History is saved within your catalog

Every image’s complete editing history is saved in your Lightroom Catalog so you can revisit changes you made to photos years ago just as you can with photos you take today.

Using the History panel is fairly straightforward. Click on any edit and your image will instantly revert back to when that change was made.

However, if you then make any subsequent edits at that point, the changes will be reflected at the top of the History panel and therefore will not take into account all the additional edits you already made. This is where the Snapshot tool comes in handy.

Lightroom Snapshots

You can use Snapshots in combination with the History panel or all by themselves. Either way, it opens up a great deal of editing flexibility that is light years beyond what the Undo/Redo commands have to offer.

As you work through your edits on a photo you might find yourself wanting to save the current state of your image so you can make additional changes but still have the option of reverting back to a specific point in time or a specific set of edits later.

Snapshots let you do that easily with one click. They are extremely useful for trying new things or even just saving various versions of a single image.

countryside weather vane - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

The above image was taken on a recent trip through the state of Kansas. I got it printed as a canvas for my wife to hang on the wall.

Creating and naming a snapshot

After creating this version of the picture I wanted to make some additional changes and even try a black and white version. But I did not want to lose the original image in case I ever want to get it re-printed. Lightroom makes this a simple one-click step. All I had to do was click the + button under the Snapshot panel. Lightroom then created a version of the image frozen in time at that exact point in the editing process.

name your Snapshot in LR - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

After creating the Canvas Print Snapshot I did a black-and-white conversion, changed the Blue color slider to adjust the brightness of the sky, and re-cropped it to be a 3:2 aspect ratio.

black and white version - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

I was happy with the result, so I saved a new Snapshot which I titled according to the edits made.

black and white snapshot named - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

Benefits

This process lets me switch between two versions of the same image with the click of my mouse. I can also create as many Snapshots as I want while also re-naming or deleting them by right-clicking on any given Snapshot name. In addition, I can use the History panel to create Snapshots by hovering over any of the edits listed in the History, right-clicking, and choosing the “Create Snapshot” option.

Finally, one nice but an often-unnoticed benefit of Snapshots is that you can move the mouse over your list of Snapshots and see a preview of each one in the small window in the top-left corner of Lightroom. It’s a handy way to see what each snapshot looks like without clicking and loading them one by one.

snapshot version of windmill - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

Three renditions of the windmill photo now exist, each with its own Snapshot that I can click on at any time to load that particular version.

Virtual Copies

One limitation of the Snapshots is that you have to manually click through your Snapshots one by one by one if you want to export them as individual photos. This is fine if you have one or two snapshots of a single image, but if you need to export multiple snapshots from multiple photos the process can become cumbersome right away.

This is where Virtual Copies really shine. While they are similar to Snapshots there are some key differences that make them highly useful in certain situations.

maternity portrait - How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

I cropped this image into a square and while the client loved it, she asked if I could send her a vertical version. I used Lightroom to make a Virtual Copy and re-cropped that so I would always have my original crop.

How they work

Virtual Copies function in a manner almost identical to Snapshots in that you can create what is basically a saved state of your edits at any point in the editing process. After that, you can add more changes to each saved state without impacting the other Virtual Copies.

To create one, right-click on any image in the Library or Develop module and choose “Create Virtual Copy” or choose “Create Virtual Copy” from the Photo menu (or use the keyboard shortcut Cmd/Ctrl+’). This essentially duplicates the photo in your library (as a new thumbnail) but does not actually create a copy of the original file.

Virtual Copies are duplicate versions of images that can be edited like any other photo in your library, and function almost identically. A Virtual Copy has its own unique editing history, can be cropped and adjusted like any other image, and can utilize editing presets as well.

The only way to distinguish Virtual Copies from other photos is that they have a small triangle icon (like a page turning) in the lower left corner of their thumbnail.

How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies - virtual copy in thumbnail strip

The small triangle icon in the lower left corner of an image thumbnail indicates that it is a Virtual Copy.

Snapshot or Virtual Copy?

Snapshots are fine when I’m experimenting with different editing techniques, but I prefer Virtual Copies on client work, particularly when I want to give them multiple versions of a single image.

For example, when processing a recent session I was able to edit an image for white balance, sharpness, tonality, etc., and then create a virtual copy with those same edits that I cropped much closer. When I exported my images from Lightroom both versions got rendered and saved to my computer, which is not the case when working with Snapshots.

How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshot, and Virtual Copies

I had two different crops of this image that I wanted to send to the clients. I used Virtual Copies instead of Snapshots so both would be exported when I created the final batch of images to send to them.

Conclusion

Lightroom has a host of small but powerful features like this that, once learned, can greatly streamline and enhance your workflow.

Do you use History, Snapshots, or Virtual Copies? If so what are some of your favorite tips and tricks that help you get your work done more efficiently? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

The post How to Use the Lightroom Editing Trifecta: History, Snapshots, and Virtual Copies appeared first on Digital Photography School.

5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

Don’t make these 5 crucial mistakes when photographing clients!

Over the years I have read dozens of articles explaining tips, tricks, and things to keep in mind for successful photo sessions. As I was wrapping up a family shoot recently I started to think about the situation from the opposite end of the spectrum. Kind of as a way of giving some advice to my younger self or other photographers who might still be honing their craft.

So instead of five tips to try here, are five things you should never do if you want your photo sessions with clients to run smoothly.

5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients - family photo

Mistake #1 – Not showing up on time

This one is a bit of a carryover from my childhood and is based on a lesson my dad taught me at a very young age. Whether my siblings and I were going to church, to school, or even just to a friend’s house he would repeatedly stress that we ought to arrive at our destination at least 10 minutes early. If we show up on time, he reminded us over and over again, we’re already late.

That might have been a bit of an oversimplification but the lesson still sticks with me to this day. It’s also one that is especially true when it comes to photographing clients.

If you are to meet at a certain location at a certain time, do not arrive when you have agreed to. Instead, make sure to get there at least 10 minutes early, and that’s the bare minimum. The earlier you arrive the more you can prepare, especially if the session is outdoors or in another type of uncontrolled environment.

fossil watch - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

As my dad would say – if you get there on time you’re already late.

Arriving early allows you to assess the situation, get your cameras and lenses in order, double-check your settings (did you remember to turn on Image Stabilization? Are you still shooting at ISO 3200 from last night’s star-trail experiment?) and mentally prepare yourself for the photo session.

It also sends a message to your clients that you’re responsible and you care about the job. If you show up on time you might end up arriving after your clients. If they’re like my father and got there early they may be wondering where their photographer is. It doesn’t take much effort to arrive well in advance but it can pay huge dividends and set a positive tone for the rest of the photo session.

Mistake #2 – Don’t dress casually

portrait of a couple in a garden - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

Your clients go out of their way to dress for the session. You should too.

This one is a big deal for me because I’m perpetually wearing the same clothes I wore in college: jeans and a t-shirt. It’s my go-to outfit for just about any situation and there were a few times early in my photography work with clients that I treated sessions as just another day out when I could dress casually. However, doing that sends an unfortunate message to your clients that you can easily avoid with very little effort.

Jeans and a t-shirt might seem fine to you but your clients might take this as a sign that you are a bit of a slacker or that you don’t care enough about your work (or them) to look the part. Clients are more likely to see your work as high-quality if you take the time to dress up a bit.

Wear nice clothes as a way of projecting a professional image. It will help clients have a more positive view of you, your work, and the session as a whole.

family sitting on the grass - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

Some clients prefer a more casual style for themselves, and that’s fine. But it never hurts for you to wear nicer clothes as a way of projecting an image of professionalism.

Mistake #3 – Don’t make fun of your clients to get a laugh

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You’re doing a photo session and it’s going reasonably well but your clients aren’t responding quite how you would like. You’re trying to get them to loosen up, relax, and smile but they still seem a bit reserved and hesitant. As a result, your pictures just aren’t quite as good as you know they could be.

So you decide to crack a joke at the expense of one of your clients who is balding, wearing mismatched socks, doesn’t realize his shirt is un-tucked, or maybe just not quite paying attention.

Oh no, the glare from Bob’s head is messing up my camera! Hang on a second, I’m being blinded over here!

Does that scenario ring a bell? I have almost done this on a couple of occasions but stopped each time, and I’m so glad I did. You might think your comments are benign and all in good fun, but the person might be sensitive about the very thing you are pointing out. You could easily cause some hurt feelings or even downright anger.

Your clients might respond to these quips with laughter but on the inside, they may feel something entirely different that could cost you referrals, repeat business, or in-person sales.

family walking on a pathway - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

This family was an absolute joy to work with. I would never want to sacrifice meaningful professional relationships with them or anyone else just for a quick laugh.

The damage that is done by what seems like benign comments could linger for a long time and have consequences well beyond the session itself. Instead of aiming for a cheap laugh, strive to maintain a level of professionalism when interacting with and photographing clients on a shoot.

If you get to know them a bit (another benefit to showing up early!) they will be more likely to loosen up, cooperate, and give you the type of pictures you are really striving for.

Mistake #4 – Don’t use your phone during the session

I know how tempting it can be to reach for your phone during a photo session, and there might even be a thousand good reasons to do so. What if it’s a text from your landlord? Maybe your cousin sent you a Snapchat message about his new job? What if your spouse is going to be home late and needs you to pick up the kids? Certainly, your clients would understand if you peeked at your phone for just a bit…right?

They might understand, but they might also wonder why you are getting distracted while they are paying you to do a job. One little peek at your phone often turns into two, then three, and pretty soon you find yourself missing shots or watching your clients roll their eyes in exasperation because you’re looking at your phone more than your camera.

portrait of teenagers - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

My advice is simple, just ignore your phone. Better yet, leave it in your car or put it on silent and stick it in your gear bag. If you think you might need to check it during a session, tell your clients in advance (yet another reason to arrive early) and ask their permission to take a minute at a certain pre-planned time to do so.

This might seem overly restrictive, but it’s so easy to get caught up in the alerts and messages on your phone that you might not even realize how much you are actually using it. Your clients will probably not notice if you are NOT using your phone, but they will certainly notice if you ARE using your phone and they might not want to hire you back as a result.

Mistake #5 – Don’t over-extend the session

Many photographers charge clients a certain amount based on the length of time that they offer for sessions. One-hour portraits, two-hour engagements, 15-minute minis, or 3 hours of wedding plus 2 hours of reception coverage, for example.

This usually works well and gives both the photographer and the clients a set of shared expectations, but it can backfire in some unexpected ways depending on the type of clients you are working with.

little girl in a blue dress - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

15 minutes in and this precious little girl was ready to be done. Extending the session would have made her fussy and stressed out her parents too.

Know when to fold

There’s a line in an old Kenny Rogers song that’s quite à propos for photographers, “You got to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em”. As a photographer, you need to learn how to read the situation, watch your client’s body language, and get their input on how to proceed when you feel like the session needs to draw to a close.

Your clients might be paying you for a one-hour session but if the kids are fussy, the grandparents are tired, and the shirts are getting sweat marks after only 40 minutes then you really need to find a way to shut it down tactfully and gracefully.

The best way I have found to do this is to keep an open dialog with clients throughout the session. Talk with them as you take their pictures and let them know that you are willing to adjust as needed especially if kids are involved. Your clients expect you to be in charge and they often won’t speak up for fear of being rude or confrontational.

So read the situation closely and take the initiative if you think it’s time to put the camera away. Your clients will probably be glad you did.

couple portrait - 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients

Talk to your clients and make the call

I have had parents thank me profusely for ending sessions early because their children were wilting after only 30 minutes. I once did an entire one-hour family session in 20 minutes on a single spot in a grove of trees because three generations were involved and the elders were exhausted and tired.

In both situations, I got input from the clients constantly and let them know that I was aware that people were ready to be done even though there was still time left on the clock.

The time might not be up, but if the session needs to be over then you have to bring it to a close. Extending it needlessly just to fill the time allotted could cause more headaches than it’s worth. Alternately, don’t go over your time unless you get permission from your clients. If they are expecting one hour and that time is up, don’t keep shooting unless you’re sure it’s fine with them. Doing otherwise could come across as rude or insensitive, no matter how good the pictures turn out.

Conclusion

I hope this gives you a few ideas to try or, more accurately, to avoid the next time you are photographing clients. If you have any tips on what to avoid I’d be glad to have your input in the comments below, and I’m sure other dPS readers would as well!

The post 5 Crucial Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Photographing Clients appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Review: Peak Design Anchor Links System for Camera Straps

I’ve had all sorts of camera straps and carrying implements over the years. From traditional neck straps that come with most cameras to sling-style attachments to simple wrist straps and even, on occasion, daring to go out into the world with no camera strap at all.

My main issue with most camera straps is that while a lot of them are designed for specific situations such as portraits, sports, travel, or hanging out with friends I haven’t yet found one that works for every occasion. That’s where the Peak Design Anchor Links system comes into the picture and solves this problem once and for all.

Mostly.

Review: Peak Design Anchor Links

The issue with camera straps

Choosing a camera strap feels more like a marriage than a dating relationship. Most aren’t easy to attach and remove without twisting some screws, threading some nylon through impossibly small holes, or making your fingernails bleed while wrestling with a key ring-style securement device.

As a result, when I buy a camera strap it usually stays on my camera permanently but often gets in the way when I want to take pictures in a scenario that the strap just wasn’t meant for.

Peak Design Anchor Links System – the solution?

The Peak Design Anchor Links system helps remedy this issue but in a bit of an odd way. Anchor Links don’t really do much on their own, and they’re not even camera straps at all.

What they are is a way for you to add a huge degree of flexibility to whatever you are currently using to help carry your cameras. They give you a great deal of choice and freedom when it comes to picking a strap that’s right for any given occasion.

Review: Peak Design Anchor Links - Fuji camera and a wrist strap

Sometimes I like to use wrist straps, and sometimes I prefer larger over-the-shoulder straps.

How it works

Using Peak’s Anchor Links is pretty simple and involves two basic parts: the strap loop and the connector. The strap loops are small red and black circular tabs with about an inch of cord sticking out. These are what you attach to things you want to carry. The most obvious items are cameras but you can use them on virtually anything that needs to be carted around from pouches to lens cases to accessory bags and more.

The anchors are small connectors that attach to your camera strap, wrist strap, shoulder handle, or anything that you use to actually carry around your gear. There is no special magic to these anchors. You just thread your existing camera strap through the slot on one end of an Anchor just like you would thread a strap through the attachment point on your camera.

It takes just about a minute to get up and running with the Anchor Link system and if you’re like me, you’ll soon wonder what you did without them.

Review: Peak Design Anchor Links - camera with a neck strap

It took less than 9 seconds for me to switch from a wrist strap to a neck strap thanks to the Peak Design Anchor Link system.

So what’s the big deal?

When I first got the Anchor Link system I didn’t really see what the big deal was. How could a set of anchors and connectors really help me with my photography?

What I realized over months of using this system, is that simply having the ability to attach and detach camera straps at a moment’s notice has freed me to focus on other things that really matter. These won’t help you get better photos, and won’t teach you about composition and lighting. But you might find yourself bringing your camera more places than usual simply because you have so much more flexibility with how you carry it.

When I’m out with my family I can clip a traditional neck strap on in about three seconds flat. If I need to go handheld I can attach a wrist strap in no time. Then when I want to move a strap from one camera to another, it’s done in mere moments.

On a recent maternity session, I was able to pack my cameras and lenses securely and put all my various straps in a separate bag. Way better than trying to wrestle everything into a single container while dealing with unwieldy lengths of padded nylon.

Review: Peak Design Anchor Links

Anchor Links can be attached to other items such as bags and pouches, or even key rings.

In the field

In terms of durability, I have had no issues whatsoever with the Anchor Link system and have trusted some very heavy camera/lens combinations to these tiny little cords without any problems. Peak Design claims each anchor link can support over 200lbs and while I don’t know if I would go that far personally, it is nice to know they’re rated for far more than my camera gear actually weighs.

It seems weird to trust a $20 attachment to hold a $4000 camera/lens combination, but it’s fair to say that the weakest link in the system would probably be whatever strap you are using and not these anchors.

Drawbacks

There are a few drawbacks to the system, namely that the more you use them the more you end up with button-sized anchor disks hanging from your camera gear. Also for some wrist straps, the attachment that secures to the anchor disk can seem a bit large. But I use the system daily with a wrist strap on my Fuji X100F and it has never been a major issue.

These are minor quibbles though, are almost not worth mentioning for something that is so immensely practical.

Review: Peak Design Anchor Links on a Fuji camera

The strap loops are small and don’t really get in the way, and Peak Design claims they are made out of a durable plastic that won’t scratch your cameras when hanging loose.

Conclusion

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Peak Design has recently re-designed the system to be thinner and easier to use. I currently use the older system and they have never felt clunky or unwieldy, so I would imagine the revised version is just as good and probably even better.

Overall it’s hard not to recommend the Anchor Links to just about any photographer whether casual, professional or anywhere in between. A basic set with four anchor links and two attachments costs about $25 and can give you a huge amount of flexibility and freedom no matter what type of photography you do.

The post Review: Peak Design Anchor Links System for Camera Straps appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Create Silky Smooth Water Effects

You might have seen photos in nature magazines or websites with silky-smooth water effects cascading over rocks, branches, and trees. Have you also wondered how in the world the photographer was able to capture such beautiful images?

For years I thought these types of images were the purview of professional photographers armed with an arsenal of digital tricks and camera tweaks that I would never be able to learn. But in reality, it’s quite simple to make images like these.

You don’t need any computational wizardry or mystical skills, and once you pick up a few basics you can start creating beautiful smooth-water photographs in no time at all.

How to Create Silky Smooth Water Effects - waterfall over a brook

Limiting the Light

To start with, the goal here is somewhat counterintuitive compared to a lot of other types of photography. Instead of letting in as much light as possible, the goal with smooth-water pictures is to let in the smallest amount of light in order to allow your shutter to remain open as long as it can. This requires a couple of settings on your camera as well as, in most cases, a very inexpensive piece of gear.

When you take a picture at a high shutter speed of 1/125th or 1/500th of a second it’s fast enough to freeze motion and allow you to get a blur-free picture of your subject. This is usually a good thing except when cascading water is involved, as freezing the motion is the opposite of what you are trying to do. Limiting the light allows the water to create motion trails and also adds an entirely different tone to the image, often one of peace and tranquility.

The following two images illustrate what I mean. This first one was taken at 1/60th of a second.

How to Create Silky Smooth Water Effects - moving water, partially frozen

1/60th of a second. Some motion trails are present but the image doesn’t feel calm, and also lacks a focal point.

The next one was taken with a much slower shutter speed and feels like an entirely different picture.

How to Create Silky Smooth Water Effects - slower shutter speed and blurred water

What you need to do

In order to cut down on the incoming light and also make sure you are getting the best images you will need to do the following:

  • Shoot in Manual Mode so you can force your camera to do what you want, not what it thinks you want. Using Auto or semi-auto modes (P, Av, Tv, A, or S) will usually not work for these types of shots.
  • Shoot in RAW so you can tweak your image afterward. It’s difficult to get smooth-water photos just right straight out of the camera and it’s nice to be able to tweak things to your liking.
  • Use a small aperture. Not necessarily the smallest aperture your lens allows, because this can sometimes cause image quality to deteriorate due to light diffraction, but a value of around f/11 or f/16 should be fine.
  • Use the lowest native ISO value for your camera. This will let you use slower shutter speeds while also giving you the cleanest, sharpest image possible.
  • Use the slowest shutter speed possible without overexposing the image too much. If you’re using RAW you can probably overexpose by one stop and recover things in post-production. But much more than that and you’re going to blow out all your highlights.
  • Put your camera on a tripod to minimize any shake or wobble from your hands. My favorite is the Joby Gorillapod since it lets me position my camera using just about any available surface, and allows me to get nice and close to the water as well.

Neutral Density Filters

Even with all this, it’s difficult to get a slow enough shutter speed to really create some good smoothing effects, and the solution is to use a Neutral Density filter. This is an inexpensive attachment that screws on to the front of your lens and cuts down the incoming light.

I like to think of it as putting sunglasses on your camera. This is the secret to getting the type of silky smooth water effects you have always admired but never knew how to create on your own.

shot of a fountain - How to Create Silky Smooth Water Effects

Here, a long exposure of 1-second not only smoothed the water in the fountain but evened out the surface of the pond as well.

There are many different kinds of ND filters that block varying levels of light, but my recommendation for smooth-water images is one that blocks 3 or 6 stops of light. Others are available but they block so much light that it’s difficult to get your exposure settings right.

You can find ND filters at any camera retailer but the key is to get one that fits your lens. Look on your lens cap to find the thread size. It will usually be the Greek letter phi followed by a number, such as 53mm or 58mm.

ND filters often come in packs of two or three. While these cheaper ones aren’t going to produce the absolutely highest-quality results they are a fantastic and inexpensive way to get started.

Getting the Shot

I enjoy creating silky smooth water images on cloudy days since it means even more light is blocked – almost like nature’s own ND filter. Morning and evening are good times to shoot as well. But any time of day will work as long as you can get slow shutter speeds using a small aperture, low ISO, and an ND filter.

How to Create Silky Smooth Water Effects - yellow leaf in flowing water

2 seconds. The long exposure time really helped create a sense of motion in the background while the leaf in the foreground serves as a focal point for the viewer.

Use Live View

I like to use Live View when preparing my shot since I can adjust the exposure parameters and see the image lighten or darken in real-time. But if you are using an optical viewfinder just pay attention to your light meter and you should be fine.

When your camera is ready and you have your shot composed, use your camera’s self-timer so you don’t add any shakiness to the image with your fingers when you press the shutter.

This method can also be used for adding a layer of gloss to moving waters, which is a fun way to add a bit of a creative element to pictures taken at the beach. The difference is that instead of trying to get pictures that show the motion of water, you are trying to make the water as smooth as possible.

How to Create Silky Smooth Water Effects - lake shot

At 1/90th of a second, the water is full of ripples and small waves.

Limiting the amount of incoming light by using the techniques above (small aperture, low ISO, and ND filters) I was able to virtually eliminate the appearance of imperfections on the surface of the water.

How to Create Silky Smooth Water Effects - long exposure on a lake

6 seconds. In addition to the surface being smooth, a host of large and small rocks are now visible which creates an additional almost otherworldly feeling.

Conclusion

Creating these types of images can be addicting! Once you get the hang of it, you may want to spend all day seeing what you can create with your camera. It doesn’t take much, but it opens up a whole new photography frontier that can be extraordinarily enjoyable and highly rewarding.

The post How to Create Silky Smooth Water Effects appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Why You Need to Manage Expectations – Both Yours and Your Client’s

As you prepare for a photo session with clients you probably run through a checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything. Cameras? Check. Lenses? Check. Lighting modifiers? Good to go. Props, stepstools, spare batteries? Got ’em.

But one thing that often gets left behind, so to speak, is a set of expectations that you and your client might have for the photo session. You might have something in mind for the session based on your experience, your work with previous clients, or the particular set of gear you are bringing along. But if your clients have a different set of expectations it can spell big trouble and will require a lot more than a few batteries and extra memory cards to fix.

 Why You Need to Manage Expectations - Both Yours and Your Client's - maternity photo

These clients hired me for a maternity session and it went smoothly thanks to a very clear set of expectations that we discussed beforehand.

Expectations are important

Think of the many ways in which your expectations influence your perception of the services and products you buy. When you go out to eat you will expect a certain level of service based on previous visits. If you go on vacation you will probably look for reviews online and base your satisfaction of the accommodations on how well those expectations were met.

If you hire a contractor to remodel your kitchen you will make sure to have lengthy discussions with them to make sure the work they perform is precisely what you want. It’s fair to say that as a consumer you probably base many of your buying decisions on expectations that have been set for you.

And yet, as a photographer, how often have you worked to set expectations for potential clients? Your website might proudly proclaim that you do weddings and formal events, but there are probably two dozen other photographers in your area who offer similar services. The same goes for most types of photography: families, youth sports, products, high school seniors, or even aerial drone images.

You’re good at what you do but what makes you stand out from the rest, and what can your clients expect when you show up to take pictures?

 Why You Need to Manage Expectations - Both Yours and Your Client's - baby in a basket

What can clients expect from you?

One of the first things I learned when I started doing portraits for clients was that the things which I thought were the most important were not at the top of my clients’ priority lists. I spent so much time thinking about pricing and choosing a template for my website that I neglected to properly craft a message letting clients know what they could really expect out of me.

A few dozen sample images of portraits in parks along with a testimonial or two are a great way to market yourself. But these don’t really tell clients much about your approach to a photo session or what you will do to get the shots they are looking for.

Set expectations early

Think about the many ways in which you can set expectations in advance to let clients know how things will go. This goes well beyond simply telling your clients how much you charge, how many prints or images you will deliver, and whether you take checks or credit cards.

For a session to go smoothly think about the more esoteric expectations and do your best to manage them before a single click of your camera shutter. Some items to ponder would be…

  • Your shooting style: Are you easygoing, flexible, and open to improvisation or do you have a more strict and pre-planned approach to photo sessions?
  • Accepting input: Do you incorporate input from clients in terms of poses, locations, or picture ideas?
  • Who can attend the session: Will you let clients bring friends, family, or even pets to a photo session? (Not to get their pictures taken, but just for help, encouragement, or comfort.)
  • Where you draw the line: Are you willing to engage in illegal or semi-legal activity to get photos? Some clients might want to shoot in areas that prohibit trespassing or are otherwise off-limits which might be beyond the scope of your services. “But my friend got photos taken at this abandoned warehouse last year.” they might say, in which case you might advise your client to solicit the help of another photographer.
  • What types of pictures are off limits? Your clients might want to do pictures on train tracks or recreate some risqué images they saw on Instagram. If that’s not your cup of tea, your clients need to know about it. And in the case of train tracks, the answer should always be NO!
 Why You Need to Manage Expectations - Both Yours and Your Client's - family photo of hands

This picture was not my idea; my clients suggested it on the day of the shoot, and we made it happen. I told them that I was open to their ideas so they offered some, and the results were great.

More expectation examples

  • Posing: Are you the type of photographer who likes to use specific formal poses or do you take a more casual hands-off approach? This is especially important if you are doing wedding and other types of events that are not easy to replicate.
  • What’s your approach to social media? Will you share pictures of the session online, talk about the session before or afterward, or snap behind-the-scenes photos to ingratiate yourself to other potential clients? Some people might be fine with this but other clients may prefer more privacy. If so you would need to adjust your approach for those clients, or let them know so they can make an informed decision about whether or not to use your services.
  • Photography locations: Do your clients want to shoot in locations that just won’t work (or the wrong time of day), or you simply can’t get to with your gear? Discuss what your clients expect beforehand so you won’t be caught off guard during the session if they ask you to shoot in a dimly-lit alley, behind a waterfall, or in the middle of a crowded mall.
  • Photography assistant: Do you use a second shooter and if so, what will his or her role be during the session?
  • Turn-around times: How long will your clients have to wait to get prints or digital files after the session?
 Why You Need to Manage Expectations - Both Yours and Your Client's - cards from a funeral

I was asked by some friends to take pictures at a funeral for their loved one. The key to the whole experience was a crystal-clear understanding of what the clients wanted and what my role was as the photographer.

This is just a starting point. You are going to have other things that are unique to yourself and your photography. And even though some of these might be clearly spelled out in your contract, it’s a good idea to set and manage expectations clearly and without room for misinterpretation. A contract may cover you in legal terms, but don’t assume your clients have meticulously read and understand every single word.

 Why You Need to Manage Expectations - Both Yours and Your Client's - graduation photo PhD

Open communication is key

In my experience, one of the best ways to set these expectations is to have some kind of real-time back-and-forth dialog with your clients. Exchanging information over email and social media is fine, but when it comes to hashing out the details of a photo session nothing beats a phone call or in-person meeting.

If the latter isn’t all that practical, then, by all means, talk with your clients on the phone or via video chat. This can help you set a positive tone for the session, ease their minds about any concerns they might have, and give you a chance to explain what they can expect. Reassure them that you have their best interests in mind.

What do you expect from your clients?

There’s a flip side to setting expectations and it’s one that sometimes gets overlooked when planning or executing a photo session. You might have bent over backward to let your clients know what to expect from you, but what have you done to let your clients know what you expect from them?

Just as every photographer is different, each client is also unique. They have an attitude and approach that separates them from everyone else. In order to make sure things run smoothly, think about ways to communicate your expectations of them with your clients. Otherwise you, and they could end up knee-deep in frustration with no easy way out.

  • Punctuality: Do you value punctuality and expect your clients to be on time for a photo shoot? This might seem obvious but not all clients take the same disciplined approach as you might when it comes to arriving when they are supposed to.
  • Cell phone usage during a session: Will you ask your clients to put their phones away during the session? For some photographers, this isn’t an issue, but others get irked if clients are constantly snapping, tweeting, and texting during a photo session. If you expect them to be focused and attentive, let them know in advance.
 Why You Need to Manage Expectations - Both Yours and Your Client's - family photo of people walking

When this family arrived I spent a few minutes explaining how I was going to conduct the session and listened to their ideas as well. It set a positive tone that resulted in some images that they really liked.

More examples of your potential expectations:

  • Transportation on-site: Do you expect your clients to be able to walk around or transport themselves to different locations? If you are doing high school senior photos do you plan on taking them to different locations in your vehicle? If so, do the seniors and their parents know that this might be a possibility? Iron out these details beforehand or you could find yourself in an uncomfortable situation the day of the shoot.
  • Other photographers at the session: If you are doing a wedding, will you be the only photographer or will the groom’s uncle (who just got a new DSLR for his birthday) be hanging out taking photos also? Some photographers don’t mind this sort of thing, but most would rather the clients tell Uncle Bob to leave his camera at home and let you do your job. Communicate your expectations well in advance to avoid hurt feelings the day of the ceremony.
 Why You Need to Manage Expectations - Both Yours and Your Client's - 2 kids

When working with kids, especially infants, things are never going to go how you expect! But discussing things with the parents beforehand is a good way to help deal with issues as they crop up.

As before, these are only some of the things to consider when setting client expectations and the best way to go about doing that is with a phone call or other type of back-and-forth conversation. This information might be on your website, but it’s incumbent on you as the photographer to do everything you can to make sure your clients know what you expect of them. Don’t simply just assume they have read through every page of your site.

 Why You Need to Manage Expectations - Both Yours and Your Client's - family photo

This family was a joy to work with, largely because of clear expectations from both parties (the family and myself).

Conclusion

Finally, one tip that might be useful to you is to make a checklist of these items so you have it handy during conversations with the client. This way you can update it over time as new issues come to light, and you can make sure to properly address all the most pressing expectation issues that could come into play before, during, and after a session.

The goal here is to make every session a positive experience for your clients as well as yourself, and the more work you do to manage expectations for all parties involved, the happier everyone will be.

The post Why You Need to Manage Expectations – Both Yours and Your Client’s appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool

Lightroom’s suite of editing tools is not as comprehensive as its big brother Photoshop But the program does offer a host of options for fixing photos that cover most of the corrections you are likely to need on a daily basis. You can, of course, use Lightroom for basic operations like adjusting white balance, changing exposure, and converting images to black and white. But there are much more advanced features as well, such as the Spot Removal Tool.

This tool is a quick and easy way to remove blemishes and imperfections. It doesn’t have the same level of depth and customization as similar options in Photoshop, but with a little practice, it should suffice for most situations in which you are likely to need it.

Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool - sunset photo

Fixing Imperfections

To access the Spot Removal tool, first, click on the Develop module and then press the Q button (the keyboard shortcut). Or you can click on the circle icon with a small arrow pointing to the right just below the histogram at the top of the panel on the right-hand side.

how to open the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool

Once you are in the Spot Removal panel it might be tempting to start clicking away at every spot and blemish on your images. But understanding some of the options available to you will help you use the tool more effectively and result in better edits.

The Spot Removal tool has two main options, Clone and Heal. Each of these has three sliders that you can change: Size, Feather, and Opacity. Before getting into the differences between cloning and healing, let’s take a look at the three options they have in common.

Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool - sliders

Size

This changes, as you might have guessed, how big the edit is going to be. Larger sizes are suited for bigger edits, while pinpoint accuracy can be obtained by making the tool as small as you need it to be.

You might be tempted to slide left and right to change these values, and that certainly works just fine. But you can also type precise numbers between 0-100 or just scroll up and down using the mouse wheel to see the brush automatically grow and shrink until you get it to where you want. You can also use the square brackets [ and ] on the keyboard to adjust the brush size.

Feather

This slider lets you control how gradually the Clone or Heal edits are implemented. Sliding all the way to 100 means your edits will gradually fade out near the edge of the tool. A value of zero indicates that there will be no feathering whatsoever.

This will result in a harsh edge around your edits that will be easy to spot so I don’t usually recommend it. Instead, try for a value of around 50 and adjust it to your taste. Similar to the Size parameter you can adjust this with the mouse by holding [shift] and scrolling up and down, which I find much easier to use than the slider.

Opacity

The opacity is a way for you to specify how transparent your edits will be. A setting of 100 is totally opaque and nothing will show through, whereas lower values will lessen the overall impact of the tool.

There might be instances in which you don’t want to completely remove a spot or blemish but mask over or fade it just a little, and in that case, set an opacity of 25 or 50 (this works well for portrait retouching, lightening circles under eyes and wrinkles without completely removing them).

Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool

Cloning

Hearkening back to the earlier days of Photoshop, the Clone tool is one of the most often-utilized features for beginning or even more advanced photographers who want to tidy up their pictures. The basic function is pretty straightforward since all it does at a fundamental level is copy, or clone, one part of a picture and put it on top of another part. This is great for situations with textures, patterns, or colors that are highly similar or where duplicating one portion would not be easy to detect.

Using the Clone Tool

This picture of a squirrel (below) has a stick on the right-hand side that I would like to remove. The Clone tool is a good way to do it. To fix something like this you can either shrink the tool so it’s small and brush it over the imperfection or increase the size to be much larger and click just once.

Each situation is going to call for a different type of edit but in general, I like to use a larger brush and click once because it usually results in edits that aren’t as visible in the final result.

Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool - image needing some cloning to remove a stick

This image is fine, but it would be great if that stick protruding up on the right side could be removed.

Lightroom tries its best to get your initial clone edit just right by taking what it thinks is a sample of a similar portion of your image. But as you can see below it doesn’t always work.

bad cloning job - Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool

Lightroom’s initial attempt with the Clone tool was less than ideal. You can clearly see a circle of in-focus grass where the stick used to be.

Adjusting cloning results

You don’t have to be content with the initial results though, as Lightroom lets you refine and tweak the cloning options until you’re satisfied.

There is an Overlay setting for the Clone tool. It is a white circle indicating the location from which the Clone Tool is selecting to copy. As well there is another circle showing you where it is being pasted. In the lower-left portion of the Develop module is a tiny little option picker that says “Tool Overlay” with four choices: Auto, Always, Selected, and Never. My personal preference is to go with “Never” and use the “H” key to show and hide the Tool Overlay as I need it.

As you use the Spot Healing tool you will see little gray circles pop up all over your image, which shows you the places where you have edited your image. If you don’t see these tiny pins press “H” to show them, and then click on one to show the white circles showing you where the edits are being taken from and applied. You can see an example of this in the image below.

Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool - cloning overlay

Press the H key to show and hide the Tool Overlay. Then grab the source that is being copied and drag it to another part of your image that blends in better with the surroundings of the blemish to be cloned out.

Once you see where Lightroom is grabbing the part of your image that it’s using to fix a blemish, it’s easy to fine-tune it to get the results you are looking for. Use your cursor to drag the bright circle around the image until you find a spot that would be better-suited for filling in the blemish. You can also adjust the sliders while you have your editing point selected to see in real-time what happens when you change things like size, feather, and opacity.

better cloning job - Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool

I wouldn’t say it’s impossible to tell that this photo has been edited, but most casual viewers would likely never know.

Visualize spots

One issue that you might encounter when using the Spot Removal Tool is that it’s not always easy to see where the spots in your picture are actually located. Fortunately, Lightroom has an option that can help you in this regard.

If you click the “Visualize Spots” button in the lower-left corner of the Develop module (make sure the Spot Removal tool is selected), you will see a black-and-white version of your image with areas of high contrast highlighted. If you do not see this option, activate your toolbar by pressing T on the keyboard.

You can also simply press the A key to activate the Visualize Spots view. Use the slider to fine-tune the amount of contrast visible, and doing so will show you where some of the imperfections are located that you might have missed.

Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool - silhouette with spots to remove

Some of the spots on the above image are easy to see, but others are visible only upon closer inspection. Snuffing out all the blemishes, which are really dust on the front of my camera lens, would be a time-consuming process without the Visualize Spots option enabled. Doing so makes it easy to see every mote and speck that I need to fix with the Spot Healing tool.

Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool - visualize spots active

Visualize spots activated

The finished image, after some clicking and editing, is much improved. I even decided to leave in the streak of lens flare on the left side because I liked the effect, you could remove it if you wanted to by using the same tools.

image after cloning - Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool

Healing

While similar to the Clone tool, the Healing brush operates in a slightly different way. It takes textures and tones from a source portion of your image and blends it with the area you want to fix. It’s not a direct 1:1 copy of the source, like the Clone tool, and as such it creates results that are often a little more refined and effective in terms of removing problems and blemishes.

The Heal tool has the same options as the Clone tool (Size, Feather, and Opacity) but because the nature of the tool is somewhat different. The Opacity doesn’t function in exactly the way you might expect. It still adjusts how much of the source spot is stamped onto the blemish you want to remove but because it’s blending textures, colors, and patterns even a 100 value of Opacity means that you won’t see quite the same results as the Clone tool.

Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool

To fix a picture using the Heal tool, click on any spot you want to remove (or click and drag if it’s more than just a single spot) and Lightroom takes care of the rest. If the spot is not fixed to your liking, press H to show the Tool Overlays and edit as you see fit by dragging the source that is being copied and adjusting the Size, Feather, and Opacity.

Note: One other thing you can do with the Lightroom Spot Removal tool is to draw a line or shape. Your cloning area is not just limited to a circle anymore as it once was in LR.

The picture below shows the result of using the Heal tool to remove about a dozen blemishes and imperfections on a photo of some mushrooms. All this was done in under five minutes using only the Heal tool, and it illustrates how simple and effective this type of editing can be.

Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool

The Photoshop Solution

I often use the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool to fix little things in my images, but for real in-depth editing, you might want to turn to Photoshop. There you can really dig in with layers and the advanced editing tools that program offers.

For most photographers, whether professional or casual, the options in Lightroom will usually suffice. That’s what I find myself using almost every time I need to tweak a picture. Give it a try and you might be surprised at what it can do for you too.

The post Fixing Your Photos with the Lightroom Spot Removal Tool appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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