No More Camera Raw Updates for CS6

A little over two years ago, Adobe announced that it would no longer update Photoshop CS6. Instead, it would concentrate all its resources on the Creative Cloud, its subscription based software. However, to placate CS6 owners, Adobe would continue to update Camera Raw for CS6 for at least the near future. That time came to an end this week.

Adobe announced on Tuesday that the next Camera Raw update would be the last update to Camera Raw for CS6. It then released Camera Raw 9.1.1 on Wednesday. What does this mean?

It doesn’t really change much for users that are doing their raw processing in Lightroom and moving to Photoshop to do the things that cannot be done in Lightroom. It also doesn’t change much even if you are using Photoshop CS6 to process your raw images and do not plan on buying a new camera in the near future. Finally, it doesn’t change the fact that Photoshop CS6 won’t work on some future version of Windows or Mac OS X.

What does change is that future cameras will not be supported in Photoshop CS6. So, if you are using Photoshop CS6 to process your raw images and want to buy the latest Nikon, Canon, or Sony camera, you will need to find another way to process raw images from that camera. You will have two choices: (1) Use Adobe’s DNG Converter to convert the raw image to the DNG format; or (2) Use Lightroom (the latest version) to process your images and then edit them in Photoshop.

This is just one more step in the slow march to obsolesce of Photoshop CS6. Whether you want a feature in Photoshop CC 2015 or Photoshop CS6 stops working on a future version of Windows or Mac OS X, the end result is the same. You will be subscribing to the CC sooner or later.

Get High: Go Fly a Kite

By Jeff Attaway from Abuja, Nigeria
By Jeff Attaway from Abuja, Nigeria

Everyone wants a drone but the reality is that $1,000 and really more like $2,500 after accessories, a gimbal mount, extra propellers, etc. is a lot of money. But, being able to take aerial photos without renting a helicopter is very attractive proposition.

I was reminiscing with an old friend this week about flying those huge Green Giant kites in our local school yard. (My older readers will remember that those kites were free with five labels from Green Giant frozen vegetable packages.) After hanging up, I starting thinking about whether it would be possible to lift my GoPro into the air with a kite. So, I did what everyone does today when faced with a complex problem, I Googled it.

Surprise! It has a name: Kite Aerial Photography or KAP. The American Kitefliers Association (AKA), devotes a section of its website to information on KAP. Moreover, you can put together a decent KAP kit for about $40. This means, while you still must worry about breaking your GoPro, you don’t have to worry about breaking an expensive drone to get aerial shots of the beach. You also don’t have to worry about national and local regulations and kites are not seen as evasive or as dangerous as a drone so you can even fly one on the National Mall.

First, you need a kite that creates uplift; many stay afloat using drag. A simple but effective kite that creates uplift is a Conyne Delta Kite, available starting at $20 Amazon. Your also need string, about $10 on Amazon. Finally, you will need a camera mount. There are plans for DIY mounts available for free online. The simplest one appears to be by Make magazine and AKA has one online as well. I suspect any one of these DIY mounts shouldn’t cost more than $10 to build. So, for a total of $40 bucks you have your “drone.”

Flying a kite is also a lot simpler than flying a drone. You simply mount your camera to the mount, turn on your camera’s intervalometer to take images every few seconds, and go fly your kite. When done, simply pull in your kite and download the images to your computer. There are no batteries to recharge or die on you, except for the one in the camera.

While I am sure, there is a steep learning curve, I think it can also be fun. Who minds a day outside in beautiful weather? How about a day at the beach? You can do this with your kids or grandchildren. They get to fly a kite and you get to indulge your passion for photography.

While not as powerful and maneuverable as a drone, it is much less expensive and simpler to operate. I need to follow the advice I get from someone around the office almost every day and go fly a kite.

Adobe Releases Creative Cloud CC 2015

Correction: When Adobe first introduced Lightroom 6 (perpetual license) and Lightroom CC (subscription based licensing) a couple of months ago, I assumed that any new features added to Lightroom CC would be added to Lightroom 6. That is apparently untrue. Today’s announcement from Adobe is only applicable to Lightroom CC, the subscription based version of Lightroom. So, I have struck out all references below to Lightroom 6. Lightroom 6 did not and will not be getting the Dehaze adjustment and other new features in Lightroom CC at this time and probably not until the next major upgrade, i.e., Lightroom 7. There are a number of theories why Adobe has done this from it is required to do so by law to greed. I suspect that this will make owners of perpetual licenses upset but Adobe has never promised that the two versions would always have the same features and the two haven’t since Lightroom Mobile was introduced two years ago.

Adobe released major updates to all of its Creative Cloud applications this morning. The updates include support for new cameras and significant bug fixes as well. Photographers will be most interested in the changes to Link to list of changes in Lightroom  6 and CC, Link to list of changes in Lightroom Mobile (CC subscribers only), and Link to list of changes in Photoshop.

2015-04-09_Mojave National Preserve_Zwit_Before deHaze
Before Dehaze adjustment is applied to image.

Lightroom 6 and CC 2015 now include a Dehaze adjustment. (Click the images on the right to see a larger version.) Dehaze removes the effect of atmospheric haze in an image and is located in the Effects panel of the Develop module. A simple slider allows you to remove (or add) haze from your landscape images.

The Lightroom update also includes two new adjustments in the Gradient Filter, Radial Filter, and Local Adjustment Brush: Whites and Blacks. These sliders are the same as the Whites and Blacks adjustments in the Basic panel and can be used to fine tune tones in the lightest and darkest parts of an image being affected by the local adjustment.

2015-04-09_Mojave National Preserve_Zwit_After deHaze
After Dehaze adjustment is applied to image.

Lightroom Mobile was given significant new capabilities, including a tone curve adjustment and the ability to adjust color channels and the B&W mix and add vignettes and split toning. In addition, you can now import and sync iPhone and iPad videos to the web and your desktop. Lightroom Mobile is only available to CC subscribers.

If you are a designer, there were a multitude of updates in Photoshop for you. If you are a Photographer, the Dehaze and new adjustments in the Gradient Filter, Radial Filter, and Local Adjustment Brush were added to Camera Raw, the export dialogue was redesigned, and the Healing Brush, Spot Healing Brush, and Patch tools are faster.

The most exciting update in Photoshop for photographers, however, is the ability to add monochromatic or color noise to blurs. If you have ever blurred a background in Photoshop, you know how well it works. In fact, it is just too good. The blurred areas are too smooth in comparison to the rest of the image and, when you print the image, it is very obvious. Now, with the ability to add monochromatic and color noise to blur, we can match the texture of the blur to the rest of the image.

Overall, this is a great set of updates to Lightroom and Photoshop for photographers. If you have Lightroom 6 or subscribe to the Creative Cloud, update now. If you own Lightroom 5, you might want to consider updating to Lightroom 6 or even the Creative Cloud.

It’s Finally Here! Adobe Releases Lightroom 6 AND CC

After nearly 21 months, Adobe released Lightroom 6 and CC today. (Yes! Two versions. See below for the distinctions and why you might want CC rather than 6.) As Adobe stated earlier, there are not many new features and most of the improvements are below the surface. However, the new features and performance improvements should make for a faster and more streamlined workflow.

The new features include:

  • HDR Merge: As a fan of using Lightroom to tone map my HDR images, this one is great! All the steps for merging a series of exposures into a HDR image and tone mapping the resulting HDR image can now be done within Lightroom. In Lightroom 5, you had to select all the images, go to Edit In > Merge to HDR Pro in Photoshop, which would open and merge the images, save the image back to Lightroom as a 32-bit TIFF, and then use the tone and other adjustments within Lightroom to tone map the HDR image.
  • Panorama Merge: As with the HDR merge feature, all the steps for merging a series of images into a panorama can now be done within Lightroom. In Lighroom 5, you had to select the images, go to Edit In > Merge to Panorama in Photoshop, save the resulting image, and process the image in Lightroom.
  • Facial Recognition: If you take a lot of portraits, you’re going to love this one. Select a face in one photo and Lightroom will search for that person in your other photographs.
  • Filter Brushes: If you have ever used the gradient or radial tool, you know how helpful these tools can be but sometimes they are just a little too inflexible. For example, your horizon isn’t always a straight line and using the gradient tool to darken the sky means darkening any mountains or trees that extended into the sky. With the filter brush, you can remove any adjustments applied to those mountains or trees. Filter brushes have existed in Photoshop Camera Raw since last summer and now they are finally available in Lightroom.

The improvements include the following…

  • GPU Acceleration: Photoshop and many other applications offload part of the processing load from the CPU to the GPU (graphics processing unit) to speed up processing. Lightroom 6 now does so as well. This should give Lightroom to be a big performance boost.
  • Slideshow Module: The Slideshow module now has more transition effects and you can include still images, video, and music in a slideshow.
  • Web Module: Web modules can now be created with HTML 5 rather than being limited to Falsh. HTML 5 is the latest HTML standard and ensures compatibility with all current browsers.

With this release, Adobe is releasing two versions: Lightroom 6 and Lightroom CC. The difference is that Lightroom 6 is the boxed version and has a perpetual license and Lightroom CC is only available by subscribing to the Creative Cloud. The other big difference is Lightroom 6 doesn’t come with Lightroom Mobile; you must subscribe to Lightroom to be able to use Lightroom Mobile.

Lightroom 6 is available immediately from Adobe as a download at a cost of $149.00 and, if you are upgrading from Lightroom 5, $79.99. If you subscribe to the Creative Cloud or the Creative Cloud Photography Plan, Lightroom 6 is included in your subscription and can be downloaded immediately from the Creative Cloud application. (To avoid server meltdown, Adobe is rolling out the update so, if it doesn’t appear in the Creative Cloud application, try again later today.)

I will be working with Lightroom CC today and will post a more detailed review later.

Postscript: For those trying to decide whether to upgrade to Lightroom 6 or move to Lightroom CC, Adobe has published a comparison of Lightroom 5, Lightroom 6, and Lightroom CC.

Aperture and iPhoto: Time is Running Out

Apple announced last year in a long anticipated move that it would cease development of Aperture, its pro photo editing application, and iPhoto, and replace both with Photos for OS X. While Apple has only said that Photos for OS X will be released this spring, it is becoming clear that day is quickly coming.

First, Apple sent an e-mail today reminding Aperture users that Aperture support is ending and that, with the release of Photos for OS X, Aperture will no longer be available for purchase. Moreover, Apple is running a public beta of Yosemite 10.10.3, which includes Photos for OS X. Public betas generally come close to final release. You can participate in the beta but be aware installing this beta will overwrite your current operating system and you do this at your own risk.

Based on my experience so far, Photos for OS X is not Aperture. See MacWorld’s First Look: Photos for OS X Brings Easier Navigation and More Powerful Editing. Photos for OS X incorporates many features of Photos for iOS. Its interface is simpler than Aperture and available adjustments, while powerful and more numerous than iPhoto, are fewer and not as sophisticated. It also includes some new features allowing you to create books, cards, and slideshows and your photos can be synchronized between different devices using iCloud (although you may need to pay for increased storage on iCloud if your library is larger than five gigabytes)..

If you are using Aperture or iPhoto to manage and edit your images, it’s time to start thinking about what your are going to do and how you are going to make the transition from Aperture or iPhoto to Aperture.

Editor’s Note: If you need to make the switch from iPhoto or Aperture to Lightroom, the School of Creative Photography can help you. Our Lightroom class is scheduled for April 25 and 26, 2015, in Sterling, VA, and will get you up to speed quickly on managing and editing your images in Lightroom. If you are already using Lightroom and want to learn more about its advanced features, the School of Creative Photography is offering an advanced Lightroom class on May 2, 2015, in Sterling, VA.

As Spock Would Say, Fascinating

Photo of the dual nature of lightWithout light, there is no photography and one of the most interesting aspects of light is how it acts as both a particle and a wave. It was one of Albert Einstein’s great insights.

While scientists have confirmed the dual nature of light in the laboratory, they haven’t been able to observe both behaviors at the same time until just recently. A team of Swiss and American scientist recently took a “photograph” of the dual behavior of light. See Simultaneous Observation of the Quantization and the Interference Pattern of a Plasmonic Near-Field published in the journal Nature Communications. The article isn’t an easy read; I was lost half way through the first paragraph. For a more understandable explanation, see the articles on Discovery and the one on the website of Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, the university at which the photograph was taken.

For photographers, this is a twofer. One, we learn a little more about light and, two, we get to see light and its dual nature in a first-ever photograph.


Look and Learn: World Press Photo of 2014

One of the best ways to learn how to make great photographs is to look at great photographs and, once a year, we have an opportunity to view some of the best press photos when World Press Photo announces the winners of its annual photo contest.

WPP announced the winners of the 58th annual World Press Photo Contest on February 2. This year’s overall winner is a photograph by Mads Nissen, a staff photographer for the Danish daily newspaper Politiken, of an intimate moment between  a Russian gay couple. WPP also awarded prizes for images in the categories of Contemporary Issues, Daily Life, General News, Long-Term Projects, Nature, Portraits, Sports, and Spot News. WPP also posted short interviews of the jury members reflecting on the contest and photography.

The World Press Photo Foundation supports and works to establish high standards for photojournalism and documentary photography. Its yearly contest, if not the most prestigious contest for photojournalism in the world, is one of the most prestigious and this year’s contest drew 97,912 entries from 5,692 photographers in 131 countries.

Breaking a Creative Rut

Sunset on the Susquehanna River near Drumore, PA.
Sunset on the Susquehanna River near Drumore, PA. Nikon D750 with 24-70mm at 70mm, 1.6 sec, f/11, and ISO 100

Until this last weekend, I had been completely focused on work, the ongoing requirements of daily life, and other people’s tribulations for almost six months. In other words, I had been in a creative rut. It had even been a few weeks since I had my camera out of its bag! However, after a just a couple of days in new surroundings, I feel reenergized and I am once again reminded of the need to shake things up frequently to keep yourself fresh.

A dilapidated greenhouse door on the grounds of Valley Forge National Historical Park
Nikon D750 at 70mm, 1/2,000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200

It is easy to fall into a rut. There are simply lots of people, events, and other things competing for our attention. It is especially easy to fall into a rut during this time of year; it is cold, rainy, and just not very agreeable outside. And, inertia being what it is, it is easy just to go with the familiar and safe. Ruts also pulverize your creativity.

What changed this last weekend? Dingo and I found ourselves at home alone and looking at another weekend of working on the house and doing laundry. In a moment of relative spontaneity (it played out over a couple of days), we decided to get in the car and drive north to Pennsylvania. I was going to see and photograph some new places and Dingo went along to smell some new places.

Nikon D750 at 70mm, 1/80 sec, f/11, ISO 100

We visited six new parks, hiked about twelve miles, took a few hundred images, and got a good night’s sleep on Saturday. I also met a couple of other photographers while on the road and, based on their recommendations, have some additional locations to check out on the next trip. Overall, a great weekend. It was relaxing and gave me some quality time with Dingo.

More importantly, I feel like it broke the rut. I still may have painting and the laundry to do but I feel great and I got some good images. My recommendation to you is to remember to shake it up and get out soon.

(The Tenth of) Ten Simple Steps to a Faster Workflow in Lightroom

The tenth and last step for improving your workflow is: Delete your rejects so that only the images worth keeping and working on are in your catalog. You can use the flag or star attributes to rate your images, delete the “bad” ones, and filter the view so you are only viewing the “good” images.

There are two good reasons for dumping your bad images: (1) It will save space on your hard drive; and (2) it will streamline your workflow so you are only working on your best images and can more easily find the image that you want when you want it. The difficulty is deciding what to keep and what to throw out. I suggest that you set up some guidelines and a process and, while you can make exceptions, don’t make them very often.

Here’s one way to select the images to discard and keep:

Step 1: Select the first image in the filmstrip and go to loupe view (press the Enter/Return key or the E key).

Step 2: Hide the two sidebars, the filmstrip, and the module picker by pressing Shift-Tab, i.e., while holding down the Shift key, press and release the Tab key.

Step 3: Press the CAPS LOCK key.

Step 4: Assign a pick or reject flag or no flag at all to the image in loupe view. Click the P key to assign a pick flag, the X key to assign a reject, or the right arrow key to assign no flag. Whether a flag is even assigned and which flag toassignis based on the following guidelines:

  • Assign a reject flag to: (i) accidental shots, e.g., images of your feet; (ii) images so far under or over exposed that they can’t be saved; (iii) heavily blurred and out-of-focus images; (iv) uninteresting and/or boring images; (v) badly composed images that can’t be fixed with a LITTLE judicious cropping; (vi) repeats; and (vii) other images just not worth keeping.
  • Assign a pick flag only to images that are properly exposed and composed (a little cropping is okay), focus is in the right place, and the depth of field is right for the image. These images are the ones that you will edit and show to friends and colleagues. If you wouldn’t show an image to your friends or colleagues, it doesn’t deserve a pick flag.
  • Don’t assign a pick or reject flag to images that don’t fall into one of the categories above. These are images that you may or may not want later but are worth keeping around.
  • Assign a pick flag to an image regardless of the image quality if it sentimental or is otherwise important to you.

Step 5: Repeat Step 4 until you have rated every image. If you have set the CAPS LOCK key, when you press P to assign a pick flag or X to assign a reject flag to an image, Lightroom will assign the pick or reject flag to the image and display the next image in the filmstrip. This saves you from having to click on two keys, one to assign the appropriate flag and one to advance to the next image.

Step 6: Show the two sidebars, the filmstrip, and module picker by pressing Shift-Tab.

Step 7: Delete the images that have been assigned a reject flag. First, go to grid view (click the grid view icon in the toolbar or the G key), display the filter bar (if it isn’t already visible) by clicking on the backslash (\) key, click on “Attribute” in the filter bar to display the attribute filter, and then click on the reject flag icon in that bar. This will filter your view of the images, displaying only the images that you assigned a reject flag in the image preview area and filmstrip. Take one more look at the images to make sure you aren’t deleting an image worth keeping and, if you find one, click on the U key to unflag the image. Finally, press Ctrl/Cmd-A to select all the images and click on the Delete key to delete the images. Remember to click on None in the filter bar to turn off the attribute filter.

Step 8:  Review the images that have been assigned a pick flag. First, go to grid view (click the grid view icon in the toolbar or the G key), display the filter bar (if it isn’t already visible) by clicking on the backslash (\) key, click on “Attribute” in the filter bar to display the attribute filter, and then click on the reject flag icon in that bar. This will filter your view of the images, displaying only the images that you assigned a pick flag in the image preview area and filmstrip. Take one more look at the images to make sure you haven’t accidentally assigned too many images a pick flag and, if you find one, click on the U key to unflag the image.

You can also use the star attribute to edit your images. Follow Steps 1 through 3 and, instead of assigning a pick or peject flag to each image, assign one star (click on the number 1 key) to each image that isn’t a reject then filter for all the images with one star and go through them again, assigning two stars (click on the number 2 key) to images that are better than average. You can repeat this process up to three more times, i.e, assigning three stars, four stars, and five stars in order during each subsequent pass, to whittle down the number of images. Once all the images have been rated, delete the images that have no stars assigned to them and skip Step 8.

Whether you used the flags or the stars to rate your images, you can easily view only your best images by filtering the view based on the Pick flag or whatever number of stars you used to designate the best of the best.

Again, it can’t be stressed enough that once your images are imported in Lightroom that images should only be deleted, moved, and renamed in Lightroom and new folders should only be created and renamed within Lightroom. Otherwise, Lightroom will lose track of your images and you will need to help Lightroom find them.

– Brian

Editor’s Note: In early May, Brian started a series of ten posts each outlining one or more simple but small things you can do to speed up your Lightroom workflow. This is the eighth post in that series; the first post was about how to efficiently manipulate Lightroom’s interface to reduce clutter; the second about the improving your efficiency inside Lightroom by using context menus; the third about how to name folders; the fourth about how to name image files; the fifth about using keyboard shortcuts; the sixth about using keywords to quickly find images; the seventh about using collections to organize your images; the eighth about using filter presets and smart collections to help keep your catalog clean; and the ninth about the why you should always use Lightroom to delete, move, or rename image files.

Lightroom 5.6 is Available and Includes Support for Nikon D810 Raw Images

Although I can find no announcement on the Adobe website, Lightroom 5.6 is available for download and it appears to include support for the Nikon D810. See Uh-Oh! I Can’t See My Nikon D810 Files. I can’t find a download page that I can link to or any information on at the current time. However, I will update this post once something is posted online. To update to Lightroom 5.6 if you subscribe to the Creative Cloud, quit Lightroom, start the Creative Cloud app, and click the “Install” button next to Lightroom 5. If you have a perpetual license for Lightroom, open Lightroom and go to Help > Check for Updates… Click the “Download” button and follow the instructions on the download page.

PS on July 31 at 1:19 pm: Information about Lightroom 5.6 and the links from which to download the update are at: If you subscribe to the Creative Cloud, download the update from within the Creative Cloud app.