Top Three Lightroom Customizations

Watermarks

As Lightroom has matured from a fledgling application for those willing to try something new, to being the most preferred application for photographers in image management and editing (see the poll I ran here), customizing your interface is something that I don’t see a lot of photographers doing.  Some call it vanity, others call it branding, but I just call it tweaking!  Regardless of your motivations, here are three areas where I don’t see a lot of people putting their own mark in Lightroom.

Since this is all about education, I’d hate for people to not be customizing Lightroom to their own personality simply because they don’t know how.  So, with that pretense, here are three ways you can customize Lightroom 4 (in no particular order)…

#1 – Customize your end panels – this is as simple as porting a small PNG or GIF file into your Lightroom Panel Endmarks Folder.  I created a small PNG file (roughly 150x90px), and made sure my background was transparent using Photoshop CS5, then saved it to the Panel End Marks Folder.  Keep in mind, that when you change this, the panel end mark will show up in two places:  at the end of both the left and right hand panels.  The file location will vary depending on your system

Mac users:  Library | Application Support | Adobe | Lightroom | Panel End Marks

Windows Users:  C:\Users\<Your Name>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Lightroom\Panel End Marks

Panel End Mark

#2 – Customize your identity plate – This is where the Adobe logo resides in the upper left hand corner.  I found that a PNG file 180×50 seems to work well.  I’ve inset my text and graphic 15 px from the left edge so it doesn’t go all the way out to the edge of Lightroom.  The 50px height also allows a logo of 40px with a 5px space at the top and bottom a little room to breathe…

Identity Plate

#3 – Watermarks – This is a point of contention for a lot of people as some tend to think that watermarks can “ruin” an otherwise good photograph.  Others like to add a watermark big and bold to prevent image theft when they post their work online.  Others still, will put something more subdued that is less interfering with the image, but can still indicate ownership.  (Just make sure you register your work with the Copyright office, otherwise it doesn’t really matter!)

Watermarks

I’ve gotten the best results by creating custom PNG files using the full instance of Photoshop (you don’t need CS6 – it can be any version of PS going all the way back as far as I can remember, which includes PS 7!).

Cleaning Your Sensor (revisited)

pecpad-400x314

In the world of blogging, content is king, and while I love creating new content for the blog – sometimes the well does run dry.  I have tried to ensure that when I do post, it’s worthy of your time, but today, I am re-visiting a blog post that I wrote a while ago on cleaning your sensors.  It’s as useful today as it was originally, so in the interests of sharing the best bits of knowledge, here’s the original – reposted:

As with most things, your camera needs maintenance too – and I’ve waxed here periodically about establishing a maintenance schedule, cleaning schedules, and the whole schmear – but I’ve never addressed the specifics of cleaning that most important piece of equipment – the sensor in your camera.  As I dive in here, it bears mentioning that I am not advocating any one of these over another – just sort of laying the foundation on the various ways that are available:

1.  Having someone else do it – Most camera stores offer this service for around $50, so if the idea of getting anything near your sensor just gives you the heebie-jeebies, by all means, this option is a good one for the nervous Nelly.

2.  Air Blowers – These are rapidly becoming one of the more popular options as they are relatively cheap, easy, and don’t require messing around with chemicals.  You simply put your camera into the cleaning mode, insert tip of the air blower near the sensor and puff it a few times remove and you are done.  Some claim fantastic results with these while others say stubborn dust won’t come off from this method.  The advantage of this approach is that you never have to touch your sensor (technically the filter in front of the sensor) with anything!  The downside is that results may not get everything off.

Air Blower Method

Giottos Rocket Blower

3.  Sensor swipes – Certain swipes are made just for camera sensors that use hydrostatic charges to remove dust from your sensor.  It’s got an advantage in that it’s a dry cleaning approach so requires no chemicals.  I have heard of some who are reluctant to use this as foreign fibers and materials can get in the swipe which could scratch your sensor.

Lensklear

4.  Chemical cleaning – Pec Pads, Eclipse alcohol and sensor swipes all combine in this method to give the most thorough cleaning, virtually guaranteed to remove even the most stubborn dirt from your sensor.  The risk – doing it wrong can permanently damage your sensor and the cost of buy-in is a lot higher than other methods.  Once you buy-in though, the long term cost drops rapidly!

PecPads

Since I only mentioned it briefly at the beginning, I should also clarify that the idea behind cleaning your sensor is actually a misnomer – all of these solutions are cleaning the filter in front of the sensor – the sensor technically never gets cleaned unless you use option 1 – sending it in for a cleaning.  All the camera vendors (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, etc.) offer this service, but the downside there is multi-faceted in that it’s usually more expensive, you have to go without your camera for a period of time, and there’s shipping involved!

What methods do you use?  I know some people that combine multiple approaches, while others simply just shake it out once and a while (heck, I read a story once of a guy that used his t-shirt! – not sure how valid it is, but you get the gist).  Sound off in the comments with your own cleaning products and approaches!