Simplified Multiple Image Deletion in Lightroom CC

Adobe applications are powerful; but the flip side of that power is complexity, and the learning curve needed to master that complexity. In the case of Lightroom one of my ease-of-use complaints has always been that deleting a single image was easy; deleting multiple images was a complex, multiple step process any way that you chose to do it.

In the case of the single image, selecting it, and hitting the delete key brought up a dialog allowing you to simply delete it from the Lightroom library (which I never want to do) or to also delete the underlying file from the drive (which I always want to do). I didn’t object to this choice, as it provided a chance to change your mind about deletion, always a good safety factor. However, the same function was not available with multiple images selected; for that you needed to first flag all the images, then run one or another secondary function to delete the flagged files.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 3.53.40 PM

Apparently I was not the only photographer who found this unnecessary (after all, there is already a safety function) and wished that I could delete multiple images of my choice at a time via the delete key. Because: it now works the same way for multiple images as for a single photo. How long has it been this way? I can’t say, as I’ve only just discovered this convenience.  But, in case others have not yet stumbled across this luxury, I thought I should post a short article describing it. Happy Deleting, Everyone!

C. David Tobie 2015

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Datacolor Photoshop CS6 & Lightroom 4 Webinar, Wednesday May 16, at 3PM EDT

Wednesday’s Datacolor Webinar will cover color management, and particularly soft proofing, using Photoshop CS6, plus the new soft proofing functions of Lightroom 4. Don’t miss this opportunity to get familiar with these new functions and how to use them, with David Saffir and myself.

You can register for this webinar here.

There will be a Datacolor Spyder4Pro given away to a webinar participant, and there are likely to be some excellent specials as well.

Sign up now to reserve a space.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012. Website: CDTobie.com Return to Blog’s Main Page

The Rise and Fall of Image Editor Prices

The big Image Editing news of March 6, 2012 was that Lightroom 4 had been released; and that the price for v4 was now half the previous price. This is not an isolated incident, and is cause to review the trends of image editing software pricing in general, to provide a background for this news.

The Long and Hallowed History of Photoshop

Once upon a time, in a land with far fewer electronic gadgets, a copy of Photoshop used to come free with the purchase of most scanners. There are two shocking ideas in that sentence: first, that we used to buy scanners… not just one, but a new one with higher resolution, better bit depth, and perhaps larger format, every year to two. But more to the point of this article: that scanner, which may have cost less than a retail copy of Photoshop goes for today, included Photoshop for free. Now, this was not your current, steroidal, supercharged version of Photoshop. Current users would be quite surprised to see how limited the functionality of the earliest versions were. But it was a necessary tool, at a time when there were few others, and you needed it to work with the images your scanner produced. In fact your scanner driver might well have been a Photoshop Plug-in, leaving you no choice but to have a copy to run the scanner. And some current Photoshop users are still purchasing upgrades to each new version of Photoshop based on one of these early “free with a scanner” versions. This points out a need for Adobe to have a reasonable revenue stream from the upgrade prices, or these long-time users would be a drag on Adobe’s resources.

More recently, Photoshop has been the application that proved you were a “real” photographer. Activation schemes assure that you aren’t running a pirate copy for free, and the pricing guarantees you are serious to own a copy. And many copies of Photoshop are now part of even pricier CS# bundles including other high-powered, high priced professional graphics applications from Adobe, with four digit price tags. Not a bad position for a software company to be in; leading Adobe to be listed as the best company in California to work for, several years running. And also leading to the fact that Adobe had never had a large-scale round of employee layoffs… until the recent recession.

The recession lined up with other factors that affected Adobe’s ability to continue its role as seller of top-priced graphics software and bundles. Not only did companies who had previously automatically updated to the latest Adobe products decide it might be the year to skip a version (which in turn, affected Adobe’s upgrade terms, tightening the upgrade path in some instances to only those who indeed did purchase every version), but other factors in the larger universe of image editing applications played a part as well.

Enter Lightroom… and Aperture

It all started with Lightroom; or with Aperture, depending on how you look at it. Both Apple and Adobe began work on new applications to mange the photographic workflow, covering image organization, rating, selection, slide shows, exports to needed formats, even printing. But the killer feature was import of RAW images, and the global edits that could be applied to the images at this level. Previously every image was opened in Photoshop. With RAW formats, this required a RAW conversion tool to be provided with Photoshop, which Adobe called  Adobe Camera Raw (soon shortened for most uses to ACR). Now, the engine from ACR could be built into this image management tool, and eliminate several pieces of software at once, creating a convenient central place to do much of what used to be done in a motley crew of third party applications.

But, the centrality of Photoshop began to slip, as it became clear that most images could be reviewed, rated, and globally adjusted, without ever being opened in Photoshop, particularly once certain localized edits, such as dust busting, became available in these new photo processing applications. One result of this was for Adobe to add the name Photoshop to the name Lightroom in later editions; Photoshop Lightroom might not catch on as a general use title, but it did retain the presence of some Photoshop tool in the whole workflow, instead of marginalizing Photoshop to the position of the advanced editor used only on the best images, at the end of the process.

Since both Apple, with Aperture, and Adobe, with Lightroom, were racing to release the first-in-category product, and thus capture the early market, beta’s of the applications were released publicly, to capture user loyalty in advance, and familiarize users with the new type of application. It was a rocky road, and the earliest question was not “which one will I choose?” but rather “will I want to use one of these at all?” However, by release, or at least by v2, both apps had matured to be important photo tools that most advanced users wouldn’t dream of living without. But which one couldn’t they live without? Over time, Adobe’s Lightroom gained the upper hand, for a number of technical, reliability, and speed reasons, but also for the simple reason that it was cross-platform, and could be used under Windows, not just on the Mac, as with Apple’s Aperture.

But during the beta period, users became used to using these apps for free; and Apple chose an aggressively low price for Aperture; perhaps in hopes of undercutting Adobe’s price and gaining more market share. By Adobe logic Lightroom was a newly developed app with lots of development costs, which offered astounding new features to photographers, reducing processing time and effort, and should have cost as much, possible considerably more, than Photoshop. If $699 was the list for Photoshop, then a price as high as $1999 could have been justified for Lightroom. But this would have driven the majority of the market to Aperture, at its much lower price, and lost Adobe market share with the high end photographers they needed to retain as customers. So one could say that Apple forced Adobe’s hand on Lightroom pricing, assuring that, even if it cost more than Aperture, it would be a few hundred dollars, not a few thousand.

Enter Mobile Apps

Next player in this drama is the iPhone. Once the iPhone App Store was launched, a new software price range was established. Adding the iPad, as well as Android phones and tablets, a point was reached where real image editing apps could be run on newer, more powerful phones and tablets, doing things that previously required thousands of dollars of investment in desktop computers and desktop apps. Even in its infancy, this new category was already showing the potential to threaten Adobe’s position as the creator of THE apps that all serious professionals used. Companies such as NIK, who were free to sell powerful mobile apps such as SnapSeed, did not feel the need to tie every mobile application back to the users dearly purchased copy of Photoshop. So Adobe was facing a new predicament, not from companies attempting to build competing desktop applications that would match Photoshop and the other Adobe graphic apps head-on, but low cost, simpler apps with more user-friendly interfaces, and fun results. And these new apps followed the mobile app pricing strategy: a few dollars per app. Adobe needed to balance their higher price points, and their excellent margins, against remaining relevant, as a new crop of advanced smartphone users began looking for the best apps to use on their phone to edit their images.

Mobile Features and Pricing Jumps Back to the Desktop

And then it happened: NIK’s SnapSeed mobile image editing application won Apple’s “Best App for the iPad” award in 2011. And not long after, NIK announced a desktop version of SnapSeed; at a price under ten dollars. Now the world was looking at fun, easy to use image editing on real computers, at mobile prices. Even NIK had a plan to upsell these users to their more advanced tools, which would mean a copy of Photoshop, since many of those tools are Photoshop plugins. But the trend is evident, and not every company’s game plan will end up requiring a $699 investment with Adobe.

And then there is the question of Lightroom, and where it now fits in the mobile world. Previously Adobe, and others, had built the ability to store, view, and even edit TIFF and JPG files into their RAW apps. This initially was for the convenience of photographers who needed their libraries to include their converted files as well a their RAW files. But over time it also meant storing of ever higer megapixel phone images in the same library, and being able to process them with the same tools as the high end camera’s RAW files. And now those phone photos could be run through SnapSeed on the phone or iPad, and later, high end images from the same location taken wu=ith professional cameras could be similarly processed though SnapSeed for the Mac, or perhaps through more advanced NIK software to get similar effects on high resolution images. The world was converging again. And all of this will inevitably effect professional photo editing app pricing.

On to Video, and the FinalCut X scandal

Still-imaging is merging with video these days, with the high-end DSLR cameras being capable of shooting footage good enough for major motion picture production… and smartphones shooting video good enough for most web applications. Apple’s Final Cut Pro had led the way, with Cold Mountain, edited entirely on Macs using Final Cut, being the first major motion picture to be edited on personal computers, instead of large, expensive dedicated editing systems. That revolution happened with Final Cut still having a four digit price tag; a thousand dollars was nothing in pro editing. But as that market opens to a wider public, Apple did, with the radically altered FinalCut X, just what they did with Aperture pricing before it: the new version was not only much easier for new users to understand and master, the price dropped to less than a third of the cost of the previous version: $300; another factor in the shift towards lower cost editing software.

The App Store Jumps to the Desktop as Well

SnapSeed wasn’t the only thing that jumped from the mobile world to the desktop; Apple introduced a new App Store for the Mac, with many of the conveniences of their iOS App Store, only for applications that run on your desktop or laptop computer, instead of your iPhone or iPad. And pricing followed suit; most of the software on the new Mac AppStore is very affordable. SnapSeed is there, as are many other convenient image apps, including FinalCut X. But not Adobe Photoshop; or at least not the version used by experts; the low cost, vastly simplified Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 Editor is available there.

Back to Where We Started

Adobe Lightroom is also conspicuous in its Mac App Store absence. But what you will find present there is the alternative to Lightroom; Apple Aperture, now $79. So, dropping the price of Lightroom from $299 to $149 makes sense in relation to the current cost of Apeture… and to the series of other image editing price trends described above. So get your copy now; and when you do, remember to thank Adobe, as well as Apple, NIK, and all the others who assured that such a great product is also so affordable.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012.   Website: CDTobie.com   Return to Blog’s Main Page

Image Critique: Times Square Pedicab

Times Square Pedicab

I have received a great many comments on the image “Times Square Pedicab” and decided it would be a good image to use for a review of a number of image attributes, and of image editing to the degree that it was used to address the image content.

Image Format

The main factor here is the crop of the file. There are those who believe everything should be uncropped, 35mm proportions. And those taking it a step further and demanding landscape orientation as well, on the basis that the eyes are side by side, and we see in a horizontal rectangle. Personally, I see in a big oval, but thats a bit tough as an image format, so I’ll simply claim the artistic license to crop to the strongest composition. For some images that means a very dynamic panorama scaled crop, and this is one of those image. The Vertical Pano format is even less frequent, but there are many images where it is the logical crop; or even the only crop. I don’t believe that the convenience of the framer should be a consideration in my image creation.

This image works as a vertical, in part due to the relation between the dynamics of a panorama crop, and the busy image content. If any city in the world can justify a vertical panorama, it is New York. And the oft photographed ends of the Square, with their towering signage are the ultimate justification. The tight crop also works to focus the viewer’s attention, in the very chaotic context, on the themes of the image.

Themes

An image is allowed to have more than one theme. Additional themes may weaken the focus of the primary theme, but they also add to the richness and poetry of the image. Here, the foreground element is dominant, and clearly the main theme. This is the pedicab, and its driver. Centered, in focus, with high enough contrast and color contrast to hold its own against the riotous background. One could even call this image an Environmental Portrait, as its main story is that of the Pedicab driver in his native environment.

The secondary theme is Times Square itself, represented by the dominant vertical element, the end-of-square signage. Again, high contrast, high color. Further repetition of this theme occurs with the secondary signage, which is lower contrast, lower color, and serves to move the eye out from the central core towards the edges of the image. Using a shallow depth of field could have provided a pleasant blur on the background, and a jumble of color without the detail this version contains. My decision, in the split second I had, kneeling in traffic to take the shot, was to go for depth of field, so the the subject, and the context, would both be detailed.

The tertiary theme is the storm brewing in the sky behind the buildings. This could be accentuated with various image editing tools, but a bit of dodging and flashing is all I chose to use, to avoid having this minor theme take too much attention away from the more important themes. This theme is in the background, low contrast, low saturation, and as such, provides a field for the events of the more dominant themes to play out on. This follows the rules for strong images: themes move from foreground to middle and then background, reducing in contrast and saturation as they recede from the viewer.

Eye Movement

The movement of the eye in this image is controlled by the dominantly vertical shape of this image crop, and the related shape of the image contents. From the foreground the eye is drawn to the driver, to his face, and then swept upwards to the signage above, where it slows and spreads to other elements in the composition, and returns for another lap, starting at the wheels of the Pedicab, then up to the subject and beyond.

Image Symmetry

The slightly off center nature of the subject and his pedicab is reflected in the slight off center nature of the main set of signs behind him. In each case secondary elements balance this to create a dynamic balance without an exactly central axis of symmetry.

Pallette

The palette of this image is not heavily controlled, and yet it manages to support the themes. The foreground and middle grounds elements contain bright primary colors and contrasting darks. The background is much reduced in saturation and contrast, with the sky reduced further still, to a range of light grays. The skin tones of the driver are sufficiently smooth and saturated to bring the eye to him, given the innate human predilection for skin. One could make a case for a set of contrasts between the driver in lower saturation skin tones, and the cab and signage forming a non-human context in much more saturated colors. The modeling of the driver’s skin and clothes, against the flatter planes of his environment enhance this contrast.

Perspective

The upward converging perspective caused by the upward camera angle enhances the tension of the image. The natural tendency of converging perspective to draw the eye is part of the upward direction of the eye movement in the image. And yet the convergence is weak enough to not cause difficulty in accepting the cab driver as the natural subject of the image, despite not being at the perspective convergence point (which would be well above the top of the image, given the minor convergence of the buildings). Adjusting the rotation of the image before cropping assured that the center of perspective, where verticals are actually vertical, is aligned with the central figure, and with the signage above him.

Central Figure

Highlight dodging and midtone burning on the Cabbie assured that the tonal range met our expectations of a portrait subject: even though the context of the image is far from portrait lighting, the eye expects certain density ranges for the human face, and is unsatisfied if it is too washed out, or too shaded, or lacks the necessary contrast range. Other adjustments were made with the central figure, its tonal range, saturation, and smoothness in mind. The end result is a figure that reads as part of the larger composition, but also as a person in his own right. The direct eye contact between the subject and the camera gives that sense of acknowledgement and permission that so often occurs in portraits.

Story

Every picture tells a story. Some tell very abstract stories, but there’s some type of story in them, or we would not have any interest in the image. Here the story is quite concrete and engaging, with the cowboy attitude of the driver sitting with his elbow on his knee in the midst of Times Square traffic, in his very informal clothes. His personality shows clearly, even though his image in the photo is relatively small. The backstory about the traffic, the business of Times Square, and even about the storm brewing overhead, adds to the richness of the content. The enigma of the subject’s race somehow adds to the content; a skin tone that occurs around the globe, and features that could be attributed to various races on most continents. In that sense, the perfect representative of our new age, and of New York.

Process Notes

Shot with a Canon 5D. Shutter speed 1/80 sec, f/20, Focal length 28mm, Lens 24-105 f/4 is.

Shot freehand, kneeling in the street, with my “camera elbow” on my knee, a bit like the subject’s pose.

Processed from the original RAW file in Adobe Lightroom 3, exported as a high bit AdobeRGB TIFF, to Photoshop CS5 for local editing. File info added in Photoshop, down sampled to sRGB web rez JPG in Photoshop.

Credits: C. David Tobie, Copyright 2012.   Website: CDTobie.com   Return to Blog’s Main Page