ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2019 Review: Face Detection and Recognition

A question seen frequently on photography groups is “What software do I get to process my images in?”. There is the usual flurry of recommendations for the familiar choices and a few random ones thrown in. One option that doesn’t get mentioned as often as it should is ACDSee. In particular the Photo Studio Ultimate 2019 bundle is worthy of consideration for both beginners and more experienced users.

The 2019 version with the newly included Face Detection and Facial Recognition features is a step up from the previous 2018 program, indicating an intention towards AI-based digital asset management.

For anyone wanting a one-stop shop to manage, view, process RAW files, and edit with layers, etc, PLUS only having to pay once for a perpetual licence, ACDSee offers a compelling option in the marketplace.

My background is in Lightroom and Photoshop which is the basis for comparison in this review.

Let us assess this software from the point of view of what it offers a beginner.


  1. Getting Started – installing and setting up
  2. Layout and Features
  3. Importing and Viewing Images
  4. Editing your RAW Image
  5. Advanced editing with layers
  6. New Features in 2019 version
  7. General Comments

1. Install and Setup

Setup and installation are fairly standard as per most software. ACDSee does require you to set up an account as part of the install process (it’s mandatory and cancels the install if you try to opt out), which then requires an extra registration step with an email confirmation. However, once sorted, no further registration is required. If you have registered before, you can use the previous login details.

It does allow you to choose which drive/directory/folder you want to install it into, as well as if you want to use a non-standard install path. As per the splash page below that opens on Startup—you can auto select the folder to open when the software starts.

Also new is the next screen, which helpfully shows you what the key functions and features are, and where to find them. Both of these can be turned off if desired. You can click on any of the words on the left panel and it will take you to the appropriate screen. Or click through on the NEXT button. Or close it.


Once you have navigated the splash pages, you will be taken to the Manage mode screen.

2. Layout and Features

ACDSee has five main modes in separate tabs for each function—Manage, Photos, View, Develop, and Edit.  There are some extra features but these are key ones used in general.

Summary of the features:

Manage mode has access to your computer, direction to find images where they are stored on the computer, and the default option is to view your images in thumbnail view (similar to Grid in LR). It shows EXIF data, histogram, and shot information for a particular image. You can colour code or rate images in Manage Mode.

Photos mode is similar to Manage. It allows a more comprehensive way of viewing image files on your hard drive, and you can drill down to specific day/month/year views.

View mode allows you to view a single image in full screen mode (similar to a single image view in LR) and has some basic editing functions included.

Develop mode is where you edit your RAW image files (similar layout and functions to LR or ACR).

Edit mode is where you can do advanced editing with layers (similar to PS).

There are also the 365 tab, Dashboard tab, and Messages tab. 365 is where you have access to your subscription information, if you opt for it. The Dashboard shows graphical data on image/camera information—if you want to know your most commonly used ISO setting, type, and number of files, it is visible here.


3.  Importing and Viewing Images

Importing is not required with ACDSee. The software will read folders directly off your computer, displaying and respecting its existing folder structure, just like Explorer. However, users can import off of external sources if they wish to achieve other organizational goals at the same time, such as culling, tagging, renaming, etc.

Once imported, you will then want to view them, cull, tag, and select the best ones for editing.

I have all my images stored on a NAS and it found those with no issues.  Above is the Manage page showing the hard drive directory structure and images in thumbnail grid view.

You can rate your images either using numbers or color tags. In the above image it has picked up the color rating I gave one image in LR. If you select the Catalog tab on the left hand menu, you can further refine your search parameters with selecting a specific rating or color tag. In the below example it has used the Red color tag to select images to view.


Also visible in the above image is the histogram (color graph below left) with camera settings above it for the selected image. The fine print at the bottom of the window has the name, file format, date/time taken, and file size information.

The full Manage mode window above, with directory tree/histogram/camera data on the left hand menu, and EXIF data for the selected image on the right hand pane, and all the images on display.

Other Image Viewing Options

ACDSee has two other image viewing options included. Photos mode and View mode

Photos mode opens with a splash screen explaining what it does.

It offers another way to sort and view your image files and has some granular control. You can get it down to a specific day quite easily and just see the images shot on that day. Probably very helpful for wedding or event photographers. Below is an example where it shows all the shooting days, with a blue bar that gives an idea of how many photos are stored under that day.

View mode is where you can see just a single image using the full screen size. You can zoom in to check the image quality using various zoom features. There is a floating Navigator panel you can activate and use that to ensure you are viewing the correct part of the image.  Similar to the Navigator in LR/PS.

There are some very basic editing tools available here, but better functionality is had in Develop mode.

4. Editing RAW Files

RAW image editing is done in Develop mode and it is laid out very similarly to LR. By default, the Editing tool panel is on the left but it can be moved.

Image with Edit Tool Panel on the left

It’s not immediately obvious, but the white section of the grey bar that ends with the triangle cut out of the bottom is the active slider. You move the light bar to the desired settings. Or type in a number or use the Up and Down arrows on the end.

There are 4 main tabs in the Tool Panel:

Tune – The usual tools for editing a RAW file, exposure, etc. Very similar to LR

Detail – Sharpening, Noise Reduction, and Skin Tuning

Geometry – Lens Correction, Cropping, Perspective adjustments

Repair – Heal/Clone and Red Eye adjustments

In Develop Mode with the Tune Panel open

In general, I found the sliders a bit fiddly to operate; it wasn’t smooth, but apparently it is easier to incrementally adjust sliders with a mouse wheel. My perception of the program is that its application of the settings is quite harsh, so careful use of the sliders is necessary.

While you can activate a second screen in Develop mode, the only purpose is to maintain a view of the unedited image for comparison.

The Tune tab also has some spot editing features—Develop Brush, Linear Gradient Tool and Radial Gradient Tool—the equivalent of Adjustment Brush, ND Grad, and Radial Tool in LR.

5. Advanced Editing With Layers

Edit mode gives most of the expected features you would find in Photoshop and other programs that offer layer/mask functionality. The Filmstrip is visible (similar to Bridge), although you can turn it off to gain the screen real estate back.

Edit Mode open with all the default settings and panels visible

Edit mode offers quite a few extra or useful features. The 2019 version also has an Adjustment layer for Color LUTs, which is a recent new feature brought into LR.

A new feature in the 2018 version was an Actions Menu—a range of preset creative edits you can apply with one click. The 2019 update to this allows you export and import actions as well.

Some of the actions have a really harsh effect like overdone HDR or similar, which was quite noticeable in the 2018 version. In the 2019 version they have toned down the effect in some of the actions, but not all of them. So it pays to pick and choose as it does depend on which action you choose as to what outcome you get. Also it applies it directly to the image so you can’t do it as a layer and then blend in, unless you duplicate the base layer and blend back which has its own issues.

One of the features that did impress me in both the 2018 and 2019 versions was how good a job the Heal tool did in tidying up spots and other issues. On the above image I have removed several spots and imperfections. On the right hand side, in the center of the flower, was a long black mark on a petal (near the small curled one), and that has been seamlessly removed.

An oddity also visible in the above image—in View mode I applied a LOMO preset and liked what it did, and further edited the image to mute the tones and lower the saturation.However, when you use the Navigator tool, as per above, it shows the original RAW file in its unedited state.

Finally I dragged some texture layers, (can be dragged from a second monitor into the Layer Palette), apply some blend modes, adjust the opacity, and soften areas with a mask to reach the final image.

New Features in 2019

Several new features have been included in the 2019 edition, but one key one is Face Recognition. A short video explains how to use it HERE.

I don’t shoot people/portraits generally but had a few tucked away to test. I could get the Face Recognition to function, however it didn’t automatically find all the other images and assign them correctly.  I suspect this is because I have all my images on a NAS and not in the usual directory. If I clicked on each image individually, it did recognise the face and the person.

General Comments

There are some things I find odd about how the program functions; three different ways to view the image can be a bit confusing. The second monitor view in Develop mode that only holds a copy of the unedited file for a comparison seems like a major waste of screen real estate.

Many new features were included in the 2018 version, and the ones assessed in this review of the latest version have been further enhanced and improved—I am guessing in response to user feedback.

This 2019 version adds a lot of nice new mature touches, and helpful splash screens to introduce you to different features.  More accessible help options is a vast improvement: there are links in the Help menu to a Support Community, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account.

Any new software program takes a bit of getting used to, but once you understand it, ADCSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2019 offers any beginner (and more experienced users) a compelling package. It has all the features you need for image management, RAW editing, and more advance editing in one place, with the advantage of a ‘pay once and it’s yours’ option instead of a subscription.  Although a subscription option is available, if desired.

At $149 USD for the single purchase perpetual licence, you get a LOT of capability all wrapped up in one software program.


8.5 out of 10

Disclaimer: ACDSee is a paid partner of dPS




The post ACDSee Photo Studio Ultimate 2019 Review: Face Detection and Recognition appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Achieve a Consistent and Clean Photo Editing Style

As a photographer, achieving a consistent and clean photo editing style is important for developing your work.

Depending on your photographic niche, the way you choose to post produce and edit your images is a key factor in achieving cohesiveness in your portfolio. Utilizing editing software such as Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop can help you develop a style and aesthetic that is personal to you.

Let’s discuss some of the necessary elements for achieving a consistent and clean photo editing style. 

Focus on Lighting to Achieve a Consistent and Clean Photo Editing Style

In order for your images to look polished and professional, you will want to focus the majority of your edits on making lighting corrections. It is important to note that shooting in camera RAW mode will allow you to make the most of your editing process. If you have this capability, change your image capture mode prior to shooting. 

Lighting corrections in post-production include changes to exposure, highlights, shadows and adjusting your black and white points. By shooting in RAW mode, you can bring details back into the image that may have been lost while shooting by increasing or decreasing some of these lighting values. This allows you to set a base for your images that define your editing style.

Whether you want to create bright, airy images or darker, moody edits – these can all be achieved by manipulating your lighting. 

Take a look at the clean photo editing style in the before and after of the images below. 

How to Achieve a Consistent and Clean Photo Editing Style - Focus on Lighting example 01


How to Achieve a Consistent and Clean Photo Editing Style - Focus on Lighting example 02

How to Achieve a Consistent and Clean Photo Editing Style - Focus on Lighting example 03

Avoid Harsh Color Edits 

While using editing programs including Lightroom or Photoshop, it can be easy to over-manipulate the color of your image. With tools such as the RGB curve, HSL or Split Toning, these capabilities can be very powerful and effective when used properly. When aiming to create a consistent and clean photo editing style, avoid harsh or dramatic color edits that appear inauthentic to the original image. 

In order to stay true to the original tones of your image, consider adjusting your white balance to ‘AUTO’ within your camera before shooting. You can manually adjust this using Lightroom if your images are shot in RAW format. The white balance ‘Auto’ mode on your camera is designed to achieve the most authentic and true-to-life color under most shooting circumstances. During the editing process, color adjustments can be made by changing values such as temperature, tint, saturation, hue and tone. 

Each photographer has a colour editing style that is specific and recognizable to their work. Whilst you can create a color style that is unique to you, be sure to remember that professional images maintain accurate color consistency. You want to make sure to change your image color values with intention, and use this same method across your body of work.

How to Achieve a Consistent and Clean Photo Editing Style - Color Editing - Example 01

How to Achieve a Consistent and Clean Photo Editing Style - Color Editing - Example 02

Eliminate Distracting or Unnecessary Elements

Another tip to creating a consistent and clean photo editing style is to remove distracting elements from your images. This may include background elements, imperfections of your subject, or even poor composition. Many of these imperfections can be fixed by utilizing removal tools such as healing brushes or the clone stamp.

The overall composition of the image can also be improved by altering the cropping and fixing alignment problems with straightening. In order for your work to have a professional appearance, you must remember to fix the imperfections and pay attention to the smaller details of your images.  

For example, in the image below,  I wanted more of the sky and less of the tree branches. Using the Lightroom Clone Stamp tool, I was able to remove some of the branches by replacing it with the blue detail of the sky. You can change your image as you see fit to avoid an image with distracting or unnecessary elements. 

How to Achieve a Consistent and Clean Photo Editing Style - Using the Clone Stamp - Example 01

Create Tools for Consistency

The most effective way to create consistent editing in your post-production workflow is to create tools such as presets in Lightroom or actions in Photoshop. These capabilities were created so you can save edits and reapply them across multiple sets of images. Depending on the editing software you prefer to use, presets and actions are both fairly simple to create and integrate into your editing workflow. 


Presets are used in Adobe Lightroom to copy and paste edits from one image to another. In order to create a preset, you must first make edits to an original image. To do this:

  1. Open your original image in the Develop Module in Lightroom. 
  2. Apply the color edits and lighting adjustments you want to make. 
  3. Once satisfied with your results, navigate to your keyboard and press ‘Command + C’ (the shortcut for copy). 
  4. The Copy Settings dialog box will appear, guiding you to choose the settings you would like to copy. Make your selection and press ‘Copy’. 
  5. Navigate to the left tool bar and find the tab labeled ‘Presets’
  6. Press the ‘+’ button and choose the option of ‘Create Preset’ or alternatively, go to the menu bar, choose ‘Develop’ and then select ‘New Preset’.
  7. A ‘New Develop Preset’ box will appear asking you to name your preset and choose the settings you want to save. 
  8. After you have determined these values, press ‘Create’ and your preset will now show in the ‘User Presets’ tab in the Develop Module.
  9. You can now apply this preset to any of your images with one simple click to paste the edits. 

How to Achieve a Consistent and Clean Photo Editing Style - Using Presets in Lightroom


Here is an example of a before and after edit with one of my personal Lightroom image presets. 

How to Achieve a Consistent and Clean Photo Editing Style - Using Presets in Lightroom Example image


Actions are created in Adobe Photoshop by recording adjustments made in the program. Unlike presets, actions are developed by pressing the ‘RECORD’ button while editing your image. Once satisfied with an edit, press the ‘STOP’ button and your action is created. Actions are used for specific adjustments to an image such as color, light and retouching. 

To create an Action, you will need to go to the right side panel and find the ‘play’ button denoted as a triangle pointing to the right. 

  1. Choose the paper icon to ‘Create New Action’.
  2. Name your Action and press ‘RECORD’.
  3. Photoshop will record your adjustments and save them to your new Action.
  4. When you are satisfied with your changes, press the ‘Stop’ button to save it. 
  5. Once your Action is complete it can be applied to your images by selecting the name of your action and pressing the ‘Play’ button.

How to Achieve a Consistent and Clean Photo Editing Style - Using Action in Photoshop


Actions can be very effective for portrait photographers who need to retouch and fine tune the facial features of their subject. You can create actions to smooth skin, remove blemishes and even for methods such as frequency separation.   

Here is an example of a before and after edit with one of my personal Photoshop Color Actions.

How to Achieve a Consistent and Clean Photo Editing Style - Using Action in Photoshop Example image


As you can see, a consistent and clean photo editing style is achieved through integrating techniques such as; lighting adjustments, natural color edits, and the elimination of distracting elements. It is also achieved by using tools such as Lightroom Presets or Photoshop Actions. In your body of work, having an editing style that is cohesive and visually appealing will give your images a truly professional touch.

Do you have any tips for creating consistent and clean photo editing styles in either Lightroom or Photoshop? Share with us in the comments below.

The post How to Achieve a Consistent and Clean Photo Editing Style appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to do Focus Stacking in Photoshop for a Seemingly Infinite Depth of Field

Whenever you do macro or close-up photography you usually have to choose very carefully what you want to keep in focus. This can also happen when you want to shoot a landscape and you want to include an element close to you but you end up with a blurry background.

So it seems that doesn’t matter if you go big or small you always have to make compromises regarding the depth of field. However, there is a post-production way around it, stay with me and I’ll show you how to do focus stacking!

Focus Stacking for an Infinite Depth of Field

First, what is depth of field?

Depth of field, commonly referred to as DoF, refers to the distance between the first and last object that appears in focus or sharp within an image. It covers the space in front of and behind the focal plane, in other words where you put your focus.

How broad this space or distance is can be determined by different factors: the aperture, the focal length of your lens and the physical distance between the camera and the subject.

Even if you have these three factors to move around in order to expand your depth of field, there are certain conditions that just won’t allow you to get as much DoF as you need. This is where Photoshop comes in, when you need to achieve an impossible or seemingly infinite depth of field.

While this is a post-production process, you need to consider and get it at the shooting stage as it’s not something you can achieve by fixing your photo later. You need to prepare several photos that you’ll stack together in order to create one fully focused image.

So basically what you need to do is shoot the image with different parts in focus. Everything else needs to remain the same, this means the same framing and settings and you ONLY adjust your focus in each shot.

Focus Stacking for an Infinite Depth of Field - source images

A few tricks for shooting images for focus stacking

  • For best results in the post-production, it’s better to have good material to work with so I recommend using a tripod so that the framing is exactly the same in each image.
  • Adjust the focus manually and in order (like from closest to farthest) so that you don’t lose track and have a shot where every area of the photo wasn’t sharp at some point during the shooting. Think of it as bracketing the focus.
  • The more photos you take the better so that Photoshop will have enough information to form your final image.

Getting Started

Okay once you’re back at home base, download your photos to the computer. The first thing you need to do is open them all into the same file in Photoshop. You can do this by going to Menu > File > Scripts > Load Files into Stacks.

In the pop-up window, set it to use Files and then with the Browse button choose the set of photos you took. Check off the option “Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images”, especially if you didn’t use a tripod. But even if you did it’s useful to keep it checked to compensate for the focus breathing which is the change in scale when you re-adjusted the focus for each photo.

Focus Stacking for an Infinite Depth of Field - load images into a stack

Once you have them all, just click Open and Photoshop will load them in the same file, each on a separate layer. The filenames will become the name of each of the layers.

Note: If you forgot to check the Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images in the step before, you can always do this by selecting the layers and going to Menu > Edit > Auto-Align.

Focus Stacking for an Infinite Depth of Field - layers

Blending the layers

Now, select all of your layers. You can do this by clicking on the first one, then holding Shift+Click and click on the last layer. That way everything in between will get selected too. Now go to Menu > Auto-Blend Layers. A pop-up window will appear, check the “Stack Images” option and leave the Seamless Tones and Colors checked as well.

Focus Stacking for an Infinite Depth of Field - auto blend

From there Photoshop will do all the work so you just have to be patient.

Focus Stacking for an Infinite Depth of Field

I recommend that you zoom in and check the edges as you can find some problem areas that may require you to copy paste from the original files for fine-tuning, like this:

Focus Stacking for an Infinite Depth of Field

Once Photoshop has your image pasted together, you can go to Menu > Layer > Flatten Image to compress all the layers into one. Finally, make any adjustments you need to the exposure or contrast to get your final result.

Focus Stacking for an Infinite Depth of Field

This is the best way of doing focus stacking in Photoshop. However, if you find yourself outside the studio, without a tripod and unprepared, you can still give it a go. Just try to stay as steady as possible or you won’t achieve the required result.

For example, I took two photos, one where the small sculpture of the head in the foreground was focused and one where the background was focused. It was done without a tripod or any care about it leaving all for Photoshop to fix and as you can see it wasn’t able to align them.

Focus Stacking for an Infinite Depth of Field

However, in these examples, I also used only two pictures and no tripod but I was very careful and did my best not to move at all except for my two fingers turning the focusing ring. Of course, it’s impossible to actually do that but it was good enough for Photoshop to do an acceptable result on my images.

So it’s not ideal but it can be done, never prevent yourself from trying!

Focus Stacking for an Infinite Depth of Field

The post How to do Focus Stacking in Photoshop for a Seemingly Infinite Depth of Field appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Find Your Photos in the Lightroom Catalog Using Filters

You’ve likely had this problem if you’ve been using Lightroom for any length of time. Can you relate? You go to your Lightroom catalog to find that amazing picture you took of the sunset in Maui last summer and scroll through thousands of previews in the filmstrip, but you can’t find your photos.

Lightroom Grid View - How to Find for Your Photos in the Lightroom Catalog Using Filters

But was it before the weekend you went camping with your family? Or was it around the time you photographed your sister’s baby shower? You have thousands of images and can’t find what you’re looking for, and everything is a mess.

Sound familiar?

Luckily, with a little bit of organization and know-how, it’s really easy to find your images in Lightroom.

One of Lightroom’s biggest strengths is the ability it gives you to organize and archive your photos.

You can find your photos by:

  • Using the Library Filter Bar
  • Using Collections
  • Using keyword tags

You can also customize the Library Filter bar and use Library Filter presets.

So without further ado, let’s look at some of the ways we can sort and find photos in Lightroom.

Grid View-Lightroom - How to Find for Your Photos in the Lightroom Catalog Using Filters

Lightroom Grid View

Sort Order

The most basic way of locating your photos is to scroll through Grid view. If you know the filename or approximate capture date, you can sort the photos into a specific order.

The Sort options are on the Toolbar in Grid view under View Menu > Sort.

Capture Time-Sort - How to Find for Your Photos in the Lightroom Catalog Using Filters

By default, I have mine set to Capture Time, which sorts my photos from the oldest to the newest.

  • Added Order sorts the photos according to the time of import, with the most recent imports first. The Previous/Current Import collection is set to Added Order by default.
  • Edit Time sorts your pictures according to how recently they were edited, including both Develop and metadata edits.
  • Edit Count sort photos according to how frequently you’ve edited that photo.
  • Rating groups photos by their star rating, from highest to lowest.
  • Pick sorts photos by their flags; flagged photos are first, followed by the unflagged photos, and then the rejected photos.
  • Label Text groups the photos alphabetically according to their label text.
  • Label Color sorts the photos by their label color, regardless of label text.
  • File Name sorts the photos by just that.
  • File Extension sorts the photos by their file extension, such as JPG, TIFF, PSD, etc.
  • File Type groups the photos by their file type, such as PSD, Video, or JPEG.

Scrolling through photos is impractical unless you have a small number of photos, which is usually not the case. Filtering hides the photos that don’t meet the criteria that you choose.

For example, you may only want to view the photos that you have applied 5 stars to, as I do to all of the images I have finalized editing and exported to a folder.

Searching Photos in Lightroom - How to Find for Your Photos in the Lightroom Catalog Using Filters

The Library Filter Bar

The Library Filter bar at the top of the Grid View in the Library Module offers three main ways to find your photos by using the Text filter, the Attribute Filter, or the Metadata filter.

The bar appears in the middle of the grid of your images in the Library Module (circled below). You cannot see it unless you are in Grid View.

Lightroom Library Filter Bar - How to Find for Your Photos in the Lightroom Catalog Using Filters

If you don’t see it, go up to View and choose Show Filter Bar or hit backslash ( \ ) on your keyboard.

View-Show Filter Bar - How to Find for Your Photos in the Lightroom Catalog Using Filters

Also, choose where you want to search. If you are searching all of your photographs in the Catalog, be sure to click on All Photographs under Catalog in the left-hand panel under Navigator.

Catalog-Search - How to Find for Your Photos in the Lightroom Catalog Using Filters

All Photographs

Text Filter

The Text Filter allows you to search through the catalog or a selection of photos using a certain text search field.

There are several search options, such as keywords, metadata, as well as IPTC or EXIF information. EXIF information includes the camera make, model, serial number and software.

Any searchable plug-in field includes searchable metadata fields created by third-party plug-ins.

Search Option Text - How to Find for Your Photos in the Lightroom Catalog Using Filters

For example, I can use Any Searchable Field to search for files that have a certain number in them. Or I can search for all my images that have a certain keyword.

If I search for “culinary”, it will search for all of the keywords, captions, file paths, folders, virtual copies etc., for that word. I include the word culinary in all of my food photography. So by using filters, I can find all my food images quickly in Lightroom.

Text Search cullinary - How to Find for Your Photos in the Lightroom Catalog Using Filters


Lightroom gives you the option to filter your photos by flag status, edit staus, star rating, color label, or copy.

In the screenshot below, you can see that I searched for all of my photographs that I have rated as 5 stars. I give 5 stars to images upon export, when I have finished editing them. I assign them a color label as well. For example, red means that I have submitted the images to my stock portfolios.

attribute - How to Find for Your Photos in the Lightroom Catalog Using Filters

You can also search your virtual copies and videos using Attribute, within the icons on the far right of the panel.

The middle icon is for Virtual Copy, while the far right icon is for Video.

Click again on Attribute if you no longer want to see the Attribute Bar.

Searching Photos Lightroom strawberries - How to Find for Your Photos in the Lightroom Catalog Using Filters


Inputting metadata after each shoot can be a lot of work, but doing so makes it easy to locate your photos at a later date.

Your camera automatically embeds some metadata or any you’ve added manually say when you’ve set up Lightroom for tethered capture.

When you’re editing in Lightroom, it’s a good idea to put some keywords in the Keyword panel in the Library Module. This is something you need to do if you’re licensing your work for stock photography, but I recommend doing it regardless so that you can more easily search your photos.

For example, if you have input the word “strawberries” in your keyword metadata, you can find all the images that contain strawberries.

When you click on Metadata in the Library Filter bar, you can search using a wide range of criteria, including file type, and camera and exposure information. You can even find images you have not assigned your copyright status.

Lightroom Metadata - Keyword Filter - How to Find for Your Photos in the Lightroom Catalog Using Filters

Metadata Search Filters - How to Find for Your Photos in the Lightroom Catalog Using Filters

Lightroom also gives you the option to add more than one type of search criteria at a time.

For example, when I searched for images of strawberries, I also searched for shots taken with my Canon 5D Mark III, using my 24-70mm lens, as well as any shot with my 100mm macro. I also searched for flagged images, as I only wanted to see my top picks, not every single image of strawberries.

multiple Metadata Criteria in Lightroom - How to Find for Your Photos in the Lightroom Catalog Using Filters

Note that if you want to search two types of photos, such as portraits and landscapes, be sure to choose them both in the first panel on the left. If you put it in the next panel, Lightroom will look for images that are both landscapes and portraits, rather than images that are landscapes or portraits.

Click on the first keyword then hold down the Ctrl (PC) or Command (Mac) key to select the second keyword. You can select multiple choices from the same column this way.

If you would like to do a different search or cancel that search, simply click on None in the Library Filter bar. When you do another search, Lightroom will remember the criteria you input for your last search.

To reset this, click on All, which is the first choice in the Filter panel.

lightroom-filters strawberry cheesecake - How to Find for Your Photos in the Lightroom Catalog Using Filters


As you can see, you can find your photos in Lightroom in various ways by using a plethora of criteria.

This is exciting news if you have been scrolling endlessly through your images to locate what you’re looking for, or you need a more organized approach to your workflow.

The post How to Find Your Photos in the Lightroom Catalog Using Filters appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Simulate a Swirly Bokeh in Photoshop

Hailing from Russia, I give you…the Helios and its swirly bokeh.

I know, it’s kind of an ugly duckling right? At the very least, Helios lenses are certainly not the shining example of classical grace and beauty that the company’s bestowed name might conjure forth. Instead, the true charm and appeal of these vintage lenses comes from what’s on the inside.

Due to their optical nature, Helios lenses can produce wonderfully swirly bokeh and backgrounds when shot at wide apertures.

How to Simulate a Swirly Bokeh in Photoshop - image shot with Helios lens

Image by Mike Newton made with a Helios lens.

If you don’t happen to have a Helios lying around (they’re actually quite cheap) then I hope you will consider learning how easy you can simulate that swirly bokeh of this nifty little lens. You can do it right inside of Photoshop – here’s how.

What Kind of Images Work Best?

The charm of the Helios lens comes from separating the subject from the background with style. This means that just like any other time you want to blur out a background, the further you can place your subject from the objects behind it the more blurred the background will become.

The same is true for images you choose to simulate the “Helios effect” in Photoshop. Look for images with isolated subjects that can be easily separated from the background. This is the example we’ll be using for the demonstration.

How to Simulate a Swirly Bokeh in Photoshop - example image for tutorial

Not only do swirly backgrounds complement images like these more so than others, but having easily identifiable borders between your subject and the background will make things much easier on you during the processing.

How to Create the Helios Effect

The key player in this edit will be a hidden little tool, or rather a filter, buried inside of the Blur Gallery portion of the Filter menu bar at the top of the window. You will use the Spin Blur Filter to give you that dreamy understated swirly bokeh background for which Helios lenses are so favored.

After you’ve got your image opened in Photoshop it’s time to begin the effect.

Duplicate the Layer

Make a duplicate copy of the background layer by using the keyboard shortcut Cmd/Ctrl+J. Feel free to rename the duplicate layer as I’ve done here to help you keep track in case you’re working with more layers.

spin blur layer - How to Simulate a Swirly Bokeh in Photoshop

Next, go up to menu bar you looked at earlier and go to Filter > Blur Gallery > Spin Blur… This will open up the blur gallery and it is here where you’ll do the actual blurring.

spin blur in the menu - How to Simulate a Swirly Bokeh in Photoshop

You’ll notice quite a few options here in the spin blur gallery; the most important of which is the Blur Angle slider.

blur angle slider - How to Simulate a Swirly Bokeh in Photoshop

This is how you will control the amount of simulated blur in your image. Think of the blur angle as the control for the degree of swirl in the background. Before you decide on how much blur you want to introduce to your image you first need to decide where you want the blur effect to be applied. Do this by adjusting the size and shape of the blur filter itself.

Adjust the Size and Feather Amount of the Filter

You can click and drag the outside of the filter to control its size and shape. How close the blur comes to the edges of the filter is controlled by the four larger dots shown here:

spin blur adjustment dots - How to Simulate a Swirly Bokeh in Photoshop

Think of these dots as the way you dictate the feathering of the spin blur effect as it approaches the edges of the filter. Drag the filter out to just past each corner of the frame and then adjust the feathering accordingly.

Feel free to experiment with placing the center point of the filter at different locations within your image.

spin blur filter in action - How to Simulate a Swirly Bokeh in Photoshop

Select the Blur Amount

As I’ve said, the largest variable you can control when applying your swirly bokeh background is the angle of the blur, which essentially dictates the amount of perceived spin blur. In most cases, a very small amount of blur angle works best, say maybe 2-4%.

Keep in mind that the true swirly bokeh from the Helios lens is generally subtle so keep the background blur in your simulated images somewhat subdued. Here’s our image with 4% blur angle applied.

4% blur applied - How to Simulate a Swirly Bokeh in Photoshop

Keep in mind that the final determination of the amount of blur will be decided just a little later in the process by using the layer opacity. So it’s a better idea to add in a little too much blur than not enough at this point in your processing.

Also, keep in mind that you can also increase or decrease the amount of blur angle using the control wheel located at the very center of the filter. Once your blur is applied, click “OK” at the top of the screen.

NOTE: If you convert the layer into a Smart Object before applying the Spin Blur filter, the settings can be adjusted at any time as it will be a non-destructive edit.

Final Blur Adjustments Using Layer Masks and Opacity

Now that you’re back to the main editing window in Photoshop you can finish up your Helios-style blur effect by using layer masks and opacity to customize the blur.

Adjust the opacity of the spin blur layer by using the layer opacity slider until the effect reaches the desired amount you like for your particular image. In this case, I’ve set the opacity to a modest 70%.

layer at 70% opacity - How to Simulate a Swirly Bokeh in Photoshop

Next, we’ll want to make sure the subject of the photo is free from the blur effect. To do this, add a layer mask to the spin blur layer.

add a layer mask - How to Simulate a Swirly Bokeh in Photoshop

Then use the Brush tool to remove the blurring effect from the areas where it’s not needed. And viola! Your freshly minted Helios swirly bokeh simulation is complete!

final image butterfly and flowers - How to Simulate a Swirly Bokeh in Photoshop

Final Thoughts on Simulating Helios Bokeh

Acquiring an actual Helios lens is a surprisingly easy and budget-friendly method for adding a little uniqueness to your photography. Still, if you choose not to get a lens of your own, you can simulate the look of that classic Helios swirl by using the methods shown in this article.

Here are a few points to remember if you want to give the Photoshop Helios method a try:

  • Choose a photo with a subject that is relatively isolated on its focal plane.
  • Images with busy backgrounds work best.
  • A blur angle of 2-4% is adequate for most photos.
  • Center the blur around the main subject but don’t be afraid to move it elsewhere!
  • Control the final blur amount using the layer opacity slider and layer masks.

Simulating the swirly blurred backgrounds of the Helios is easy and quick in Photoshop using the spin blur filter.

Here are a few more examples of images which have been given the Helios effect using the techniques shown here.

The post How to Simulate a Swirly Bokeh in Photoshop appeared first on Digital Photography School.

How to Boost Your Post-Processing Skills With a Graphics Tablet

During the course of your love affair with photography, you’ll use many different pieces of equipment. Some you’ll purchase, some you’ll beg, borrow, or steal. They will all serve one purpose or another. Some you may love so much that you keep forever. Most you won’t.

You don’t hear me talk about gear often. Over time I’ve worked hard to simplify my gear, and as a travel photographer, I’ve had to be ruthless in shedding excess size and weight. Every now and then, however, you come across a tool that is so valuable to your workflow that you can’t imagine working without it. One of those tools for me is a graphics tablet.

step up your post-processing with a graphics tablet

Photo by Kate Trysh on Unsplash

I’ve been using a tablet for quite a few years now, and it’s totally worth the extra weight in my bag. When I sold everything I owned and bought a one-way ticket to travel the world with my camera, I found space for my tablet. It has revolutionized my post-processing, and it can revolutionize yours too.

What is a Graphics Tablet?

A graphics tablet is a device that allows you to use a stylus instead of a mouse to control the cursor on your computer screen. They come in many sizes and offer a variety of features. They work by pointing at or drawing on the surface of the tablet with the stylus, which transfers your movements onto your screen. Most come with buttons on the stylus and on the tablet, which you can configure to act as mouse buttons or keystrokes.

They range from small tablets with no buttons all the way up to huge displays where you can draw directly onto the screen, much like an iPad. They often include features like pressure-sensitivity, allowing extremely precise controls that come in very handy when drawing.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Why Use a Tablet?

You might be asking yourself what’s so special about a tablet. What’s wrong with a good old mouse? I used to feel the same way until I tried using one. The humble mouse works fine for everyday computer usage, but it’s severely limited when it comes to photo editing.

Have you ever found yourself getting frustrated while trying to edit some fine details in a photo and having to go back over and over again? When you use a mouse, you’re relying on the movements of the large muscles and bones in your arm and hand to move it around your screen. It’s incredibly cumbersome. Your arm works great with big movements, but not so much with small, precise ones.

Now think about the precision and fine motor skills required to draw with a pen. Every tiny muscle in your hand is used to control the movements. I like to think of it this way: a toddler can use a mouse, but there’s no way they could use a tablet. They can’t even write their own name. A tablet will allow you to use those fine motor skills that you developed all those years ago.

step up your post-processing with a graphics tablet

Photo by Josefa nDiaz on Unsplash

How Do You Use a Tablet?

You may have seen tablets being used in Photoshop tutorials and wondered how they’re used. You don’t need to be a professional retoucher or illustrator to benefit from using a tablet. Even if you do all your post-processing in Lightroom, you will likely still find that a tablet will make the process much more precise and enjoyable.

step up your post-processing with a graphics tablet

ExpressKey menu in the Wacom setting panel.

The main benefits of editing with a tablet are speed and precision. As I mentioned earlier, most tablets will have some extra controls on the stylus and on the tablet itself. These controls can be customized to do pretty much anything.

This means that you can replace your most commonly used keystrokes with a single button. The touch ring can be set to adjust things like brush size and hardness, or scroll and zoom. These controls can speed up your post-processing dramatically.

step up your post-processing with a graphics tablet

Touch Ring options in the Wacom settings panel.

Where a graphics tablet really shines is when you want to apply local adjustments to your photos. Whether you’re making selections, drawing, painting, erasing, or dodging and burning, you’ll find that it’s far easier with a stylus than a mouse. It feels more natural and you’ll make a lot fewer mistakes.

If you don’t currently make a lot of local adjustments to your photos, I highly recommend taking some time to learn how. Learning basic dodging and burning is one of the best things you can do to take your post-processing skills to the next level. Do it with a tablet and you’ll be amazed what a difference it makes to your workflow.

There are many great resources available online for free that will teach you the basics of dodging and burning in both Lightroom and Photoshop. Likewise with setting up and using a tablet. There is a bit of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll never want to edit with a mouse again.

Choosing a Tablet

As I’ve mentioned, tablets range massively in price, size, and features. What you need will depend on a few factors like your budget, how much space you have on your desk, and how you like to work.

You can spend anywhere from $25 to $2000, so there is something that will suit your needs. You should be able to find a decent tablet under $100 that does the job.

step up your post-processing with a graphics tablet

Wacom’s high-end Cintiq tablet.Photo by Norbert Levajsics on Unsplash

Choosing the right size can be tricky. On one hand, the larger your tablet, the easier it is to use. You won’t find yourself having to move around the screen as much with a larger tablet. On the other hand, it will take up more space on your desk or in your bag. I personally like using a tablet that’s smaller than my laptop, that way they both fit nicely in my bag when I’m on the road.

In terms of features, you don’t need a lot of the more advanced features. My older Wacom Intuos doesn’t feature pressure sensitivity, and I don’t miss it. I would recommend using a tablet with at least a few control buttons, as they can speed up your workflow quite a bit.

Don’t stress about getting an expensive, high-end tablet, though. You’ll likely find that a basic model or a cheaper brand will suit your needs just fine. If you have an iPad lying around, there are apps available that allow you to connect it to your computer and use it as a tablet.

Beg, Borrow or Steal

Well, maybe not steal, but ask around and see if someone you know has a tablet you could borrow or rent to try for a week. If you can find one to test out, give it a chance. As I’ve said, it takes a while to get used to it, so don’t give up too soon.

I’m sure that once you get your head around it you’ll be wanting one of your very own, and you’ll never look back.

The post How to Boost Your Post-Processing Skills With a Graphics Tablet appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Tips for Dodging and Burning with Lightroom

In this video from Johny Spencer, learn how to use the local adjustment tools inside Lightroom to do dodging and burning. The idea behind this technique is about highlighting certain areas of your image and really make them pop.

You don’t have to be a Lightroom or processing master to d so this. Just follow along and watch the video below:

Did you learn some good tips? Did the video make you want to go to the beach? I did for me! Well now is the time to put your new skills to use and try it out on some of your images.

Need more Lightroom help? Try these dPS articles:


The post Tips for Dodging and Burning with Lightroom appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

There is little quite as delightful as going through family albums, reliving memories and watching how things have changed over the years. Having digital copies is great but nothing really beats the excitement of having them in print, holding all those memories in your hands and going through them at your leisure.

It’s a sentiment I’ve especially grown to appreciate since the birth of my daughter. The rare times my hard drive starts giving me trouble and I begin to fear the loss of my digital files, I’m assured if anything, my favorite photographs with my loved ones are safe in their spot on my shelf. So, how do you go about creating such family albums?

The Lightroom Book Module

If you use Lightroom in your post-processing workflow (who doesn’t?), you’ll be delighted to know it helps you make beautiful albums even if your sense of design isn’t the best.

It keeps you from looking for other software – where you’ll probably be re-uploading your photos, struggling with their size, cropping, and even brain storming for creative and appealing layouts.

The Lightroom Book Module even goes a step further and gives you the option to send your photo book to Blurb for printing from within Lightroom!

In case you don’t know, Blurb is a publishing company which prints quality books on-demand for people like you and me. They’re reasonably priced and could rival professional photo books. To sweeten the deal, they deliver your order right to your doorstep!

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

Of course, you still have the option to convert your photo book into a PDF or JPEG images. That way you can have them printed yourself or just save those layouts as collages. So, without further ado, let’s look into how you can make beautiful family albums!

Step 1 – Make a Collection

Before you start creating your book, you should make a Lightroom Collection of the photos you want in the book.

Since I take a lot of photos of my daughter and they’re all in different folders, I’ve set up a Smart Collection which saves any picture I keyword with her name. This way, Lightroom automatically saves them to that Collection. Whenever I need to look at all her photos together, I just navigate to that folder and they’re all there.

For this example, I’m making a photo book of my daughter’s first year. Once you’ve made your personal Collection, select it and head over to the Lightroom Book Module.

Step 2 – Save your photo book

In the Book module, you’ll immediately see all the photos of your Collection laid out in the form of open book pages. (Note this only happens automatically if you set that up in your Lightroom preferences).

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

Before you start anything, it’s a good idea to save the book so you don’t lose any changes you make. To do so, look for this button in the top-right: Create Saved Book.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

After clicking that, you’ll be asked to name your book and choose where you want to keep it in Lightroom.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

It’s preferable to keep it under the collection you’re working from so it’s always easily accessible. To do so, select the Inside checkbox, and in the drop-down menu select the collection you’re using. I’m using a collection with my daughter’s name. (Keep the other options ticked as they are by default).

On the Collections panel, the photo book will appear under your collection.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

Viewing your photo book

You can choose how to view your photo book from the different “Views” options on the toolbar at the bottom.

The default one is the Multi-Page View which shows your entire photo book. You can enlarge or shrink the size of the pages by using the Thumbnails slider on the bottom-right, the same way you do in the Library module.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

Then there’s the Spread View, which shows how side-by-side pages will appear in the book. This is useful when you’re having a closer look at your photo book. You can shift through the pages using the arrow keys on the toolbar below.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

Finally, there’s the Single Page View to get really up close and personal, for when you’re adding finer details.


Step 3 – Select Book Settings

The first panel on the right-hand side is the Book Settings panel. Here, you can choose the format of the book between Blurb, PDF, and JPEG.

Publishing with Blurb

First, let’s look at the options you have if you choose to publish through Blurb.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

Depending on your requirements, you can change the size of the book.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

You also have the options to change the paper type and the book cover. An interesting thing to note is that at the bottom of the panel you’ll see a rough estimate of how much your book will cost. However, the price is only visible if you’re using the Blurb option (as seen above).

As you change your options the price will also change. This helps you manage your photo book within your budget.

Publish as a PDF or JPEG

If you choose PDF or JPEG in the Book drop-down, the options will also change (shown below).

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

You still have the liberty of changing the book size and choosing the book cover, however, now you also have to look over other things like your image quality, resolution, etc.

Step 4 – Layout

Now that basics are out of the way it’s time to get to the good stuff!

Right now, your photo book may have a lot of empty pages and it clearly doesn’t look like what you want. The appearance, or rather, the layout of the book can be changed in the Auto Layout panel.

Notice that the Preset selected by default is Left Blank, Right One Photo, and that’s likely how you’re seeing your book right now: the left page is blank and the photo is on the right side of the spread.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

If you want you can choose any of the other presets available to you, though you’ll find there’s little available.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

To change everything to your liking, you’ll first need to hit the Clear Layout button in the Auto Layout panel.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

This clears away everything and gives you a completely new canvas to work on.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

Making your own Layout

In the Preset drop-down, select Edit Auto Layout Preset.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

This opens a dialog box where you can select how you want your pages to look.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

You can see that the dialog box is divided in half to accommodate the design for the right and left pages. By default, the left page is blank. On the Left Pages drop-down, select Fixed Layout.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

This will open a variety of layouts for you to choose from. You can scroll through them to see if anything catches your fancy.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

The grey area in the template shows how much space the photo will take on the page. In the image above, the first sample (on the left-hand page) portrays an image having some space from the edges of the page, thus we can see the white border. The second template (on the right-hand page) shows an image being fit onto the entire page with no blank space at all.

As you scroll down, you’ll see a number of different layouts, some of them with text as well.

Your page might not be the same proportion as your photograph, so it’s a safe option to choose “Fill” from the Zoom Photos drop-down menu.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

This makes sure that the final look is exactly as you see in the template, or you might be seeing more blank space than you were supposed to.

You might have noticed that so far we’ve been working with “1 Photo: from the secondary drop-down that appeared after selecting Fixed Layout.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

If you choose any of the other options from the dropdown, the templates will change accordingly.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

Similarly, you can choose any template on the right-side pages. Don’t forget to choose “Fill: in the Zoom drop-down before you hit Save!

One tip I offer is that you should choose templates where images have some space (white lines) between them. It gives a more elegant, classy look. In the end, though, it all depends on your personal preference.

When you hit Save, the New Preset dialog will ask for a name. For convenience, name the Preset according to how you’ve selected the layout to look (see example below).

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

When you click Create, the Auto Layout panel will have the new preset selected. To apply it to your photo book, you just have to click the Auto Layout button.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

If you don’t, you’ll find your book to still be in the default setup of “Left Blank, Right One Photo”. This is what my view looks like after clicking Auto Layout.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

As you can see, Lightroom applied the selected layout (that we created) to the entire photo book.

Step 5 – Changing Layout for Individual Pages

For now, your entire photo book follows a single layout. But you can also change the layouts for individual pages too! Let’s check out the Page panel for that.

Select the page where you want to change the layout by clicking on the little arrow on the Page panel.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

You can also access these options directly by clicking on the little arrow below any page you select.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

This allows you to choose from all the layouts available.

Step 6 – Working on Individual Panels

There’s still more tweaking you can do as well. If you think an image would look a bit better after a little bit of zooming in or out, you can select the image and a zoom slider will appear. Simply drag the marker as you see fit.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

This sort of work is better done in Spread view since it shows you a larger view and is also easier on the eyes.

You can also change the position of a photo by dragging it. It will move within the confines of its template. In the image below, you can see the photo has been dragged a little bit from left to right.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

You should go through your entire photo book in the Spread View at least once to make sure everything looks good and no image is getting cut off in an unpleasant way.

You can get really creative and make interesting sets of photos by using zoom and dragging the image to adjust its position.

Step 7 – Changing Photos inside Panels

Lightroom arranges all the photos automatically. So obviously there may be images which you want to see on another panel, or another page, or a certain set of images you wanted to keep together.

You can change the photos inside panels pretty easily by dragging and dropping. Select the photo you want to move and drag it towards the panel you want it in. Once you drop it, the two photos will swap places.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

You can also drag photos into the panels from the Filmstrip below.

Removing a Page

If you want to remove any page, right-click on the page and select Remove Page.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

Step 8 – Adding Text to your photo book

When you select any page or photo, a small button “Add Page Text” or “Add Photo Text” will appear near the bottom line.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

Simply click this button if you want to add text and write whatever you want.

Lightroom’s default font might not be very pleasing to the eye, so if you want to edit your text, select the text and look over at the Type panel.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

The Type panel is pretty straightforward. Here you can change the font type, font color, font size, opacity, alignment, etc. By default, the font is set tightly against the photo.

You can adjust this through the Text panel too.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

The Offset slider on the Text panel helps you adjust how near or far you want to place the text from the photo.

You can also adjust the text to sit Above, Over or Below the photo. If you want to remove the text, uncheck the Photo Text option in the Type panel.

Step 9 – Adding Backgrounds to your photo book

Our last stop is the Background panel. If you want to add images or some sort of design in the background, this is where you need to be.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

Adding a Photo in the Background

If you want to add an image as the background, simply drag it from the Filmstrip and drop it on “Drop Photo Here” in the Background Panel. It’ll appear as a faded background.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

You can control its density with the Opacity slider near the bottom of the panel. It’s best to keep it at a low opacity like 20-30% so it doesn’t distract from the main image.

Adding Background Color

If you want to add a color to the background, you need to check the Background Color option. Then you can click on the color selector and pick a color, or add a HEX code to get your desired color.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

Adding Graphics to Background

Adding graphics is just as simple. Click on the arrow icon in the Background panel and it will open a side menu.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

By default, “Photos” is selected. Change it to “Travel” or “Wedding: and you’ll see graphic images similar to the ones in the image above. Select the one you like and you’re good to go.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

You can experiment with the Opacity slider using graphics too.

Note: Any background effect that you apply will apply to only the selected page. If you want to apply it to the entire photo book, you’ll need to check the Apply Background Globally option.


Step 10 – Ready for Printing!

Once you’ve worked out the finer details and are all set to see your photo book in print, select the Send to Blurb button at the bottom of the panels. In case you’re working with the PDF or the JPEG option, you’ll have Export Book to PDF/JPEG as the last step.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

When you click Send Book to Blurb, you’ll get a Sign In window detailing the final look and price of your photo book.

How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module

If you want to get good quality prints at a good price and a professional looking photo book ready at your doorstep, I’d suggest making an account at Blurb and taking full advantage of it.

Afterward, the only thing left to do is to wait for the memories to be given a form.

I know for a fact that I’d love to look through this album of my daughter’s first year in the world, from time to time, even ten or twenty years later. At that point, who knows where my digital files will be.

The post How to Create Memorable Family Albums Using the Lightroom Book Module appeared first on Digital Photography School.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5

There are many genres within the framework of photography and one that is very popular is portraits. As such, many photographers are looking for great software that can help them make their portraits so much better. ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5 has some great tools and adjustments for portrait processing to give them a professional touch.

In ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5 you will find all the tools you need to retouch out blemishes or any imperfections that the person or model may have. You can give the skin the same hue all over to get rid of blotchiness. Finally, you can make the eyes whiter and the teeth brighter. Your subjects will love the results.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - portrait image

Portrait processing with ON1 Photo RAW

We are going to start with the basic skin retouching before heading to the Magic Eye Fixer and finally the Toothbrush.

Basic Retouching

Open the image you want to work on in the Develop Module of ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5. Here you can make the basic adjustments like correcting the exposure or the white balance. Play around with the sliders to get what you want.

You can see what was done to this image below.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - basic adjustments

Basic adjustments.

No girl wants to be seen with acne on her face, so the next step is to get the Erase tool and remove as much of it as you can.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - blemishes

There are still blemishes on and around the chin, so now it is time to take it a step further with the skin retouching. ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5 has some great adjustments you can use to do just that.

If you are working on images of people that you know or clients, consult with them first about what they are happy with you removing from their skin. It might be good to remove scars, for example, however, if they are proud of those scars, it might upset them. Always ask.

Skin Retouching

You can do skin retouching in either the Develop or Effects modules. For this article, we will use the latter so click on Effects in the right-hand panel.

Once you are there click on Add Filter under the Overall settings.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - Effects Add Filter

Effects > Add Filter

When you click on that you will get a big list of options from which you can choose. For this tutorial, click on Skin Retouching.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - skin retouching filter

Skin Retouching filter.

You should see a new window open up that has all the adjustments for Skin Retouching. The first thing you want to do is select the eye dropper that is next to the square color patch. You will see a cross-hairs cursor so that you can make a selection on the skin.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - skin selection

Choose a part of the skin that is somewhere in between the darks and the lights. A mid-tone is the best option and a good place to find that is on the forehead.

Once you have your selection you are ready to retouch all the skin. You can now set the range of how much you want to do on the face. Use the Range slider at the bottom.

As you move it around you will see parts of the image that are covered in black while others are now. The black parts will not be affected, which as the lighter sections and places where it doesn’t cover it you can use the skin retouch. It doesn’t hurt to move it up a lot.

As you move the Range slider along you will see parts of the image covered in black while other areas are not. The black parts will not be affected by the retouching. However, the light sections, or the parts of the image that seems like they are not being affected, is where the skin retouching will apply to the image.

It doesn’t hurt to move the Range slider up a lot.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - range of skin retouching

Add a Mask

Next, you need to add a mask. You can do that at the top of the layer window, it is the white rectangle with the black circle inside.

You will see more options appear and along with the mask. The cursor will also change and the brush will come up automatically once you have done that.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - mask and brush options

Once you have the mask, go ahead and invert it. When you do this the mask will go black. When it is black it means that nothing from that layer is affecting your image. The brush is already chosen and now it is time to work out what parts of the image you want to add the skin retouch.

Make sure you brush is set to Paint In. You can change the brush options including feathering along the top above the image. You don’t need a lot, my brush was set at 31.

Now paint over the skin you want to affect. You should see parts of the mask going white where you are painting. Avoid the eyes and the mouth.


Once you think you have done all the skin it is best to check and make sure.

Along the bottom of the window, you will see the button for a preview. Press it to see your original image. However, on the left, you will see a rectangle with a grey dot in it. If you click on it you will see the image go to solid black and white.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - mask

This shows you what your mask looks like. Pressing the letter O does the same thing if you like keyboard shortcuts. It can be hard when it is like this to really see what you have got painted and what you haven’t.

Go up the Main Menu > Masks > View Mode and finally choose Red Overlay.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - red mast overlay

The red overlay will show you where the black part of the mask is (the unaffected areas), so you can now refine your mask.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - red overlay mask

In the above image, you can see what has been selected. The areas with no red are where the skin retouching will be applied. If you have areas that should be red, change your brush to Paint Out and it will cover them.

Click the circle at the bottom to change back to the image, or press O to show it.

The skin retouching can seem very subtle, but if you toggle the layer on and off you should be able to see the changes.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - toggle layer

Final Adjustments

Now to do some final adjustments. At the bottom of the layer you can see Blemishes, Smoothing, Shine and Evenness. Move all the sliders to the left.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - sliders at the bottom

Slowly move each slider up and see how they change the image. Take them all the way to the right to see how bad would be if you go too far, then bring them back to where you want.

The one you have to be really careful about is the Smoothing slider. You can make the skin look like plastic very easily. You can see what was done for this image in the following example.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - sliders adjusted

The next step is to again turn the layer off and on to see the results and whether you think it has improved the image.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - skin retouching before and after

Magic Eye Fixer

The Magic Eye Fixer is great to help whiten the white parts of the eyes. It can make the subject’s eyes seem a lot brighter. However, this one needs to also come with a warning, it is very easy to take it too far and make the eyes look ridiculous.

To use this tool, go to the Local Adjustments tab and then select Add Layer.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - new layer

In the new layer window, you will see options like Lighten, Darken, Vibrance, and Detail across the top (just below the Opacity slider). Then there is a square with a down-arrow that says More underneath. Click on it and a drop down menu will appear.

Look down the list and you will see Magic Eye Fixer. Click on that.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - magic eye fixer

Once you have clicked on it you will see some of the adjustments change automatically. The brush tool will also be automatically selected. Paint over the eyes.


Obviously with the automatic changes that ON1 Photo RAW makes for the adjustments are too much. You may also find it too hard to paint exactly over the eyes. Don’t forget you can change the brush to Paint Out to deselect the areas you don’t want if you mess up.

Enlarge the image view so you can get a better look at what you are doing; make sure you are only changing the parts you want to affect. You can also press O to check the mask as well.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - masked eyes

You can see that the adjustment is too much. Now you can change the exposure slider to make it look more natural. You can also use the Opacity slider at the top of the layers panel. That will also help you tone down how much the layer affects the image.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - eye settings

You can toggle the layer off and on to see if you like the effect or want to make further adjustments. Just remember not to go too far.

Healing the Skin

You could leave the image here, but there are other things you can do to make the skin look even better.

In the left-side panel, there is a brush called the Retouch Brush. This is a good one to use to help remove unwanted skin blemishes. It softens them, without removing them completely.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - retouch brush

Paint this Retouch Brush over the areas where you would like to remove imperfections. For this image, we will use it for the bags under the eyes, the scar on the forehead and the one over the right eye. It will also work well for the acne marks on the chin.

The brush is feathered and the opacity has been changed to around 50%.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - after retouch brush

After the Retouch Brush

It is a great tool, but as with all things, you can go too far. Sometimes it is good to leave the image for a day or two, then go back and take another look. It gives you a better perspective.

Whitening Teeth – Toothbrush

You will find that many people like to have their teeth appear whiter in photos. We aren’t all blessed with brilliant white teeth and now you can help them achieve that. ON1 has included an adjustment that will help you do the job very easily.

So still in the Effects Module, go to Add Layer. As you did for the Magic Eye Fixer, click More and select Toothbrush this time.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - toothbrush

You will see a new layer open up with many adjustments already made, so it is ready for you to go.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - preset adjusments

Do much the same as you did for the eyes. Click on the mask and then the brush will come up. Paint over the teeth. It may be easier to do them one at a time. If you go outside the teeth click on the brush to Paint Out and go over the areas you don’t want affected.

The teeth should be very white.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - overly white teeth

Obviously, it looks terrible like this so you will need to make further adjustments to get the right look.

You can change the opacity of the layer, or turn down the exposure slider so the effect isn’t so bright. For this image, I changed the exposure because there was something else I wanted to do.

These images are of my daughter, who has never thought looking after her teeth were worth worrying about. So, I wanted to get rid of the yellow staining. The best way to do that was to lower the saturation so the teeth appeared whiter. Move the Saturation slider to the left until you get the result you are happy with.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - teeth whitening

Now we can compare the final image by turning the layer on and off. You do that by clicking the Yellow dot in the top left corner of the layer panel you are working in.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - layer off

Layer off.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - resulting image

Layer on, final result.

The image could be left there, but I decided that her face and hair could do with some brightening overall. So I choose a new layer, and did a mask with her face, that included her hair. The exposure was brought up slightly and so was the White balance to make the image warmer.

Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018 - lighten the image

Looks much better now. She even likes it as well.


ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5 has everything you need to do the most amazing portrait processing. You can give people skin that is attractive or remove unwanted hues that the camera adds. Everyone wants to look beautiful in photos and now you can help them look the way they see themselves.

The people at ON1 have created an amazing community for all their users and there are many other videos to help go to the next level. Don’t forget to check all of them out and see what else you can do with your portraits.

Disclaimer: ON1 is a paid partner of dPS.

The post Tips for Portrait Processing with ON1 Photo RAW 2018.5 appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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