Masking in Lightroom

Adirondack Dock

This post was written a while ago, but the concept is still one that many people aren’t aware of – essentially that you can perform masking in Adobe Lightroom.  Keep reading to learn how!

Often when  I talk to people about their work flow one big question and the need to do some pixel based editing in Photoshop, one of the questions that often comes up is “Why can’t I do X in Lightroom?”

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EXIF Data Explained

Lightroom Interface

Did you know that your images contain a whole host of information that you may not even be seeing?  The header information in your photos contain something called EXIF data.  While most of us know how to get things like our shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and perhaps even the camera body, there’s so much more that can be pulled in with the right software.

That software is a plugin that Jeffrey Friedl makes called Metadata EXIF Viewer, which you can download for free from his website at the link provided.  It’s based on an EXIF tool Perl script from Phil Harvey, which he links to here.  It’s just like any other Lightroom plugin as far as installation goes – download the compressed file,decompress, and then copy the folder to where ever you save plugins for Lightroom and you’re set.

Then, after installation, highlight the image you want to get extended info for, and click on File, Plugin Manager Extras, and select the plugin:

Lightroom Interface

Once a short CGI script runs (that’s the Perl program for you programming types), you’ll be presented with a laundry list of more info than you likely ever wanted to know about your photos.  All this, just from the header info!  Check it out:

Like I said, a veritable fountain of info…and this is just from one photo!  The question of course becomes one of “What do I do with all of this?”  Excellent question!  In the interests of full disclosure, more data isn’t always a good thing, and for many of the fields, there’s often no data reported.  Nevertheless, there are times (albeit not everyday occurences), where being able to access everything can be helpful.

Take a minute to stop over at Jeffrey’s website and try the plugin.  (If you want to register it, you do need to make a donation of at least one penny, otherwise it’s free to use for 30 days.  I gave $2.00)

Got your own neat little add-ons, plugins, or tools that you use in your workflow too?  Feel free to sound off with your input in the comment section!  Until next time, happy shooting!

Wordless Wednesday #027: Boulder Tulips

Wordless Wednesday #027: Boulder Tulips

Wordless Wednesday #027: Boulder Tulips

I’m coming out of silence for Wordless Wednesdays…primarily because so many people are asking me questions via email, Twitter, and FB to share details about the composition, post production, and other details.  Instead of just spitting out metadata and other information, I’ve got questions and answers from now on:

#1 – What rule of composition did I use and why?

I chose the Rule of Thirds for this shot, and specifically chose the lower left third to be the grabber.  I didn’t want this to be an overpowering shot, for the eye to just enjoy the plethora of tulips…but the little tiny yellow and red amongst the larger red ones struck me for some reason, so I framed it to the lower left – thus giving more space for the eye to expand out from there to the rest of the scene.

#2 – Are any rules of composition broken?

Here, I don’t think so – in general, the Rule of Thirds applies, and the Golden K also applies if you look at it for more than a second or two…see the K lines appear in the red tulips?  Kinda neat, eh?

#3 – What camera/lens combo did I use?

For this shot, I was on my trusty Canon 40D, and the lens mount was none other than the Canon kit 18-55mm (nonIS)!  I went with the 18-55 mm lens because this is a very good lens for approximating the equivalent of what the human eye sees, and for this photo shoot, I wanted that effect.

#4 – What lighting did I use?

Here, there were no lights…it was au naturale:  S=1/60th, f7.1, focal length = 50mm, and an ISO of 1250!  (Yep, ISO 1250 – I was hand holding and wanted to keep it bright!  The scene was actually much darker, because the sun was going down, and I really wanted the colors to pop!  Depth of field was also important to me, because all the flowers needed to stay relatively sharp. Since I was shooting light and on the fly (no tripod or monopod), my only option for getting the brightness in the scene that I wanted was to push the ISO settings up to maintain correct exposure.  

#5 – How did I process it?

I processed this in Lightroom 4, using just a few tweaks on the right panel:  I had under-exposed a little (especially given the fading lighting conditions), so upped that by .76.  I also set Clarity, Vibrance and Saturation to 50, +10, and +10 accordingly.  These settings helped bring out more of the color and vibrance that I was seeing but was not in the default raw file.  My sharpening and noise levels were also set to  +73 and +50…the sharpening was up that high because,w ell, we always have to sharpen at least a little, and a went a little higher to help define that depth of field.  Lastly, the noise levels were pushed up to help counter the impact of the ISO when I was shooting.

Hopefully this will help those of you who are interested in learning what I see with my eye and why I capture certain images.  If you have more questions, or thoughts on improvement, feel free to share those in the comments!