Disabling Apple’s Photos App Auto-Launch When Connecting a Phone

Having applications intelligently auto-launch is only helpful if you plan to use the application for that function. Since most advanced photographers use Adobe Lightroom to import and manage their images, having an Apple application offer to import your images is redundant, and can cause multiple copies of images to be stored on your hard drive. Apple’s previous iPhoto app could be set to not auto-launch when your iPhone or iPad was attached to the computer through settings in iPhoto’s preferences. The new Photos app that has replaced iPhoto no longer lists that option, leaving photographers puzzled about how to eliminate this undesired auto-launch.

The answer lies with a seldom-mentioned Apple utility named Image Capture. Launch Image Capture from the Applications Folder (despite it’s Utility-like nature, its not in the Utilities subfolder), and look in the lower left corner.

Clicking on the tiny arrow at the bottom left will open up an option for deciding what application to trigger when your device is connected. Choosing “No Application” will solve the issue. You will need to do this for other phones and tablets you connect to your computer, on a per-device basis.

C. David Tobie

The Changing Role of Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop: once the be-all and end-all of digital imaging; but no longer. There have always been Photoshop competitors, but none ever had the feature set, or the market reach, to seriously compete with Adobe’s flagship image editing application. But what competition alone could not alter, is changing over time, with other shifts in the industry.

RAW Formats Produced the First Cracks

When RAW file formats become common, and RAW converters from each camera company came on the market, Adobe responded with a RAW utility for Photoshop. Adobe Camera Raw became one of the most common ways to convert RAW files to “real” image files, meaning the types of universal file formats (Tiff, Jpeg etc) that we all considered to be the bedrock of imaging.

The changes did not stop there. Applications which performed RAW conversion, plus image storage and other functions, began to appear. Adobe’s entrance into that market came with the release of the first version of Adobe Lightroom. Before long, it became apparent that the types of adjustment tools in these RAW apps were actually more photo-centric than those in Photoshop. Adobe appeared to see the writing on the wall, and changed Lightroom’s name to Photoshop Lightroom. A technicality, but one that keeps the name Photoshop at the top of the image editing heap, one way or another.

Apple’s entrance into the RAW converter/Image Manager field with Aperture created stiff price competition for Lightroom, forcing the intial price of Lightroom to be much lower than Photoshop, and recent version prices to be lower still. This price differential has been an added factor in the move to RAW format apps for the majority of image editing work.

Mobile Imaging Provided the Second Front

The next sea-change was the move to mobile. While Adobe released a minor app for imaging on the iPhone early-on, other companies launched an all-out assault on the mobile image editing market, resulting in the odd situation of smaller companies like NIK providing superior image editing capabilities in third party image editors, and leaving the lesser features of Adobe’s PS Express in the dust. As the mobile imaging field matured further, both Adobe and Apple responded by releasing major image editing products for iOS.

The future of NIK’s award-winning SnapSeed for the iPhone and iPad, as well as their desktop applications, are in question, following the recent acquisition of NIK by Google. But we can rest assured that the surge in mobile imaging apps will continue unabated, from companies large and small, augmented by web apps of the Instagram-type; which seems the most likely field for Google’s NIK acquisition.

Photoshop CS6 Changes the Rules

The release of Photoshop CS6 heralded the next change in Photoshop’s role in our daily lives. The CS6 version defaults to an interface more like that of Lightroom, and a backdrop that covers the main monitor’s screen behind Photoshop’s pallets and image windows, also somewhat similar to Lightroom’s full-screen interface, but without the total-control attitude of Lightroom.

This is a relatively new feature, and not without difficulties. It is most effective when images are “tabbed”, a function that locks them to the top of the screen, and allows them to be viewed by toggling between the tabs for each image. When using free-floating image windows, the new interface has more noticeable weaknesses, including the disturbing habit of “losing” image windows behind the background (which, by definition, should always be at the back), and difficulty accessing other applications while Photoshop is on-screen.

Photoshop CS6 Application Frame Interface

This rather minor change has wider reaching ramifications for casual Photoshop use. Historically, most users linked all common imaging formats to Photoshop, so that double clicking on most any image file would trigger it to open in Photoshop. However the new “black-out” effect of Application Frame mode makes it less practical for use in conjunction with other applications. Perhaps you need to have an image on screen while writing a critique of it, or need to read text from a screenshot while performing the steps it represents, or a hundred other such multi-app situations.

For such uses, Photoshop’s default state is no longer practical, and must be reset to it’s previous interface by choosing Window >Application Frame to uncheck the new Application Frame feature. However, there are some real advantages to having the Application Frame in place while working with Photoshop for serious image editing work. So an alternate solution is to use Photoshop as a dedicated advanced image editor, not a general image viewer. This means finding another application which can be conveniently used for the types of casual image display that Photoshop does not specialize in.

Accessing the Application Frame Interface Control

Image Viewer Utilities Come to the Rescue

For Mac and Windows users, Graphic Converter is one reasonable low cost choice, which allows navigation amongst a group of images. But there is an even less expensive alternative on the Mac, with some clear advantages. That is Apple’s own Preview app, which is installed free with Mac OS X.

Graphic Converter Interface

Preview is ideal for opening a range of file types, including common image formats. And it offers an excellent way to view a group of images. Command click on the various images you would like to view. Now Control-Click on one of them, and from the contextual menu that appears, choose Open With > Preview.

Apple’s Preview Interface

This will result in an image viewing window with a vertical set of thumbnails of your selected images on the left, and the first image in the group at a larger size on the right. The size of the previews can be adjusted by moving the border between the preview and main view sections to the left or right. The size of the larger image can be adjusted by dragging the lower right corner of the window. The Arrow Down and Arrow Up keys can be used to navigate the series of images. Preview is a color managed utility, so your images will display correct color on screen.

This method of displaying one or more images, and an array of other file types, while not losing the convenient ability to work in other applications at the same time, makes Preview a useful tool for everyday imaging tasks. Give it a try, or start your own search for a favorite image viewer for daily use.

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

Using Datacolor’s SpyderCube with Lightroom 4’s Process 2012

Datacolor’s SpyderCube can be used to set white balance and exposure settings by shooting it in an initial image under a given lighting condition, correcting basic settings in RAW converters such as Adobe Lightroom, and then applying those corrections to all other images shot under the same conditions. Adobe’s new Lightroom 4 defaults to a new set of RAW import controls called Process 2012, which function differently than previous Lightroom controls. This article outlines the differences between the previous Process 2010 and the new Process 2012, and how to achieve similar results from the two different processes when adjusting images using the SpyderCube.

The controls and their default settings for the Basic tools in the Develop Mode of Lightroom under Process 2010 are shown below on the left, with the Process 2012 equivalent controls, also at default settings on the right.

Process 2010 and Process 2012 default settings for the Basic controls

Images which were previously imported through Lightroom 3 will appear in Lightroom 4 using Process 2010; older images imported using Lightroom versions 1 or 2 will show as Process 2003. New imports in Lightroom 4 will appear as Process 2012 images. This brings two questions to mind; can images be converted from Process 2003 and 2010 to Process 2012 without visible changes? Not automatically, as explained in an earlier article. But with careful tweaking, the results can be very close, as we will demonstrate here.

Below are the copies of the same RAW file, one opened at defaults in Process 2010, the other opened at the default settings in Process 2012. Clipping warnings or white and black ends are turned on in both images, to show the relative clipping the two defaults produce.

Image opened using Process 2010 and Process 2012 defaults, with black and white clipping warnings

There are some differences in the densities and clipping, due to the differences in the defaults, and the different default Tone Curves in the two Processes. Next I use the SpyderCube to correct the p2010 image in the manner that the Cube has been used to correct images with Lightroom previously. The resulting adjustments are shown on the left below. I then adjusted the p2012 version of the file to as close to identical as the rather different controls in p2012 allowed. These adjustments are on the right below.

Process 2010 and Process 2012 adjusted settings

These adjustments resulted in the pair of corrected images shown below. As you can see, there is not much difference to the eye. However, the new controls in Process 2012 have other advantages not apparent here that are well worth the upgrade.

Images adjusted in Process 2010 and Process 2012

Below are the same two corrected images, with black and white clipping warnings turned on.

Adjusted images with black and white clipping warnings turned on

As you can see, the black clipping areas are nearly identical. The white clipping is somewhat reduced under Process 2012, due to changes in how the controls function.

Under any Process, the first adjustment is to set the White Balance by using its eyedropper to sample from the center of the lighter of the two gray faces, which represents the primary light source’s color temperature and tint. Under Process 2003 and 2010, the lighter white face was then adjusted to a value of about 90%, using the Exposure control. Then the lighter gray face was adjusted to a value ranging from 50% for shots in direct sunlight to higher values in lower light conditions. This was done with the Brightness control. Further fine tuning of Exposure and Brightness are often necessary, to compensate for each other, until the target percents are shown in both the primary gray and primary white samples. Finally the blacks were adjusted until an appropriate visual distinction was visible on a calibrated monitor in proper editing conditions (dim ambient lighting), resulting in a black value usually in the range of 10%, if there was splash lighting hitting the black face, or as low as 5% if there was not. White and gray values are rechecked if there is significant adjustment for the blacks, and adjusted if necessary.

Under Process 2012, it would seem that the nearest equivalent to this method would use Exposure to set whites, Whites to set grays, and Blacks to set blacks. But this does not produce the expected results with the new controls.

Instead a significantly different method can be used to obtain similar results. Once the image is white balanced, the Exposure control is used next to set the lighter gray face to the desired level. Then the Whites control is used to set the lighter white face to the appropriate level, with minor adjustments to the Highlights control if needed for optimal results. Again, these are tuned until gray and white levels are appropriate. Now the Blacks control can be adjusted to control black clipping in the SpyderCube’s black trap, while the black face surrounding the trap can be adjusted using the Shadows control. Finally, checks of white and gray are done again, once black adjustments are complete. This method now has five controls which can be brought into play, instead of the three used in earlier Processes, offering finer control of shadow to black ratios and black clipping, and highlight to whites ratios and white clipping.

Notice in the adjusted settings image above that Process 2010 editing increased the Exposure significantly, while reducing the Brightness (which started at a default of +50). Under Process 2012, Exposure is increased only fractionally, while Whites are increased significantly. Lightening an image using the Whites control increases the brightness of the dark areas less than the Exposure control, so effects the grays of the SpyderCube less, for a similar change in the Cube’s whites than the Exposure control. It is the differential between these two controls that is being used to control highlight values versus midtone values, and produce some, but not too much, white clipping in the chrome ball on top of the Cube to assure specular highlights are correctly set. Similarly the Blacks control, which clips, and the Shadows control, which does not, are played against one another for clean blacks in the black trap, and appropriate shadow detail in the black face.

Opposing Adjustments to Blacks and Shadows can be used under Process 2012

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

Lightroom 4: Analyzing the New Process 2012 Controls

There are some fundamental changes between the controls and settings in Lightroom 3’s Process 2010, and Lightroom 4’s Process 2012. I have described these differences, and shown some of the value of the new controls, in previous articles, as well as the weaknesses inherent in the older process. It has been pointed out to me that none of these articles actually analyze the differences in the controls, and describe how they effect images; so that is what I will do here. Those of you who are determined to understand the new process fully may find some answers in the testing notes below.

Both Process 2010 and 2012 are available in Lightroom 4, with previously imported images defaulting to Process 2010 (or if they are of Lightroom 2 or earlier, to Proces 2003), while newly imported images will be in Process 2012. It is possible to change between these processes, but there is not exact equivalency, as you will see in this article. The illustration below compares the Basic Controls in the Develop module of Lightroom 3, on the left, and Lightroom 4, on the right.

Lightroom 3 and 4 Basic Controls, AKA: Process 2010, and Process 2012

Testing Methodology

In order to analyze changes caused by the various controls, test images where shot of the Datacolor SpyderCheckr target, where the ten percent gray ramp patches, and the additional 5% and 95% gray patches, were used to determine how adjustments were effecting the image tonal range. These numerical changes were compared to the visual changes in the image itself, and the graphical changes in the RGB histogram of the image at the top of the Lightroom Develop Mode’s right panel. Shots of the Datacolor SpyderCube were similarly tested, in part to help analyze the Lightroom Processes, and in part to determine how best to use the SpyderCube with these new controls, which I will document in a future article. Checks were done between Lightroom 3, and Lightrooom 4’s implementation of Process 2010, to be sure that the two were equivalent. Further testing was done in Lightroom 4.1, using the p2010 and p2012 settings, which is much more convenient than running two versions of Lightroom simultaneously.

White Balance (graphical change)

While the Color Temperature and Tint controls in the White Balance section display differently between the versions, this is simply a matter of Process 2012 now displaying the actual Color Temperature value in Degrees Kelvin even at the “As Shot” setting, instead of defaulting to zero, and not offering any useful Color Temp info until the slider had been moved from that location in Process 2010. The functionality of the controls in this section is unchanged, so will not be discussed further.

Exposure (range change)

The Tone Controls section has the same number of controls as before, but their names, groupings, and some cases their control types have been changed, between p2010 and p2012.  The first control to analyze is the Exposure slider. It now has a range of negative five to positive five in Process 2012, increased from four units in each direction in the previous version. This extra range may come in handy for some extreme situation, but the functionality of the control in its usual range appears unchanged. Exposure stretches (positive move) or compresses (negative move) all tones. No clipping of values at the black end occurs when compressing the Exposure downward, but significant blow-out of highlights occurs when increasing the Exposure in either Process.

Contrast (location change)

Contrast functions by stretching all values out from the center with a positive adjustment, or compressing them towards the center with a negative adjustment. The effect is not symmetrical with much more change taking place in the darker end of the range than in the lighter end. Contrast adjustments do not clip either near whites or near blacks, compressing them towards the ends instead. This behavior appears identical in Process 2010 and Process 2012. So while the Contrast control has a new location, now paired with the Exposure control at the top of the Tone section, its functionality can be considered unchanged.

Recovery (removed)

This Process 2010 control no longer exists in Process 2012. It is a single directional slider, with the default position at the zero end. Moving the slider away from zero does not darken white, but darkens near whites and highlights, while having little effect at the dark end of the range. This is a “gamma-like” adjustment, where both ends are fixed, and the adjustment centers in the highlight zone, moving only in the direction that reduces the brightness of tones from their default values.

Fill Light (removed)

This is another Process 2010 control that no longer exists in Process 2012. It is also a single directional slider, with the default position at the zero end. Moving the slider away from zero does not lighten black, but lightens near backs and shadows, while having little effect at the light end of the range. This is another “gamma-like” adjustment, where both ends are fixed, while the adjustment centers in the shadow zone, moving only in the direction that increases the brightness of tones from their default values. The functionality of the Fill control appears to be a symmetrical opposite of the Recovery control.

Blacks (range and location change)

The blacks control in Process 2010 is a single directional control, but the default value was not zero. Offset from zero varies, but for all cameras I checked it was at 5, while for non-RAW images, it was at zero. Adjusting the control back towards zero decreases the default clipping of blacks. Increasing the slider value clips an increasing number of near blacks to black. In Process 2012, the Blacks slider is now a bidirectional slider, with a default of zero. The lack of a default offset here is compensated for elsewhere in p2012; partially with changes in the Tone Curve default and engine (more on that below).

Brightness (removed)

This p2010 control has no equivalent in p2012. The Brightness control is a bidirectional slider, which defaults to zero for non-RAW images, but defaults to a value of +50 with all tested cameras.  The Brightness control runs to positive and negative 150, and compresses but does not clip at the black end with negative values. It clips significantly at white with positive adjustments. The control has a similar function, when moved in the positive direction, to the Exposure slider, but does not have as much range.

Highlights (added)

This new Process 2012 control is bidirectional, and defaults to zero, as do all the new/replacement controls. Positive adjustments stretch highlights towards white, compressing near whites to white without clipping them, and stretching highlights in the midtone end of the affected zone. Negative adjustments are more in line with previous Recovery adjustments. They compress highlights into the midtone zone, while stretching them in the near whites. There is also a parametric Tone Curve function of the same name. Both Highlights controls have very similar effects, though they are applied separately. It makes sense not to raise one of these controls while lowering the other, as it would be counterproductive, but there might be cases in which minor adjustments in the same direction are made in both.

Shadows (added)

This new p2012 control, like the others, is bidirectional and defaulted to zero. It is an mirror of the Highlight control, used to control shadow detail versus image punch. Again there is a control of the same name in the Tone Curve section, but here the effect of the Tone section’s slider has a broader effect than the similarly named control under the Tone Curve section, so one or the other may be selected depending on whether a more localized or more broad effect is desired.

Whites (added)

This new bidirectional, zeroed p2012 control is somewhat analogous to the now older Brightness control, but with much less range in the negative direction. It does not have the Highlight control’s protection against clipping, if moved in a positive direction. It raised all tones, and clips those near white progressively as stronger positive adjustments occur. Whites are also not held when negative adjustments occur, so lowering the Whites control will darken whites along with other values.

Blacks (again)

This new p2012 control is the mirror of the White control, producing the same results, from the other end of the tonal range. Its described above, and included here only to round out the “new four” as this is the only control of the four to retain its name, though it has changed its function considerably.

The Other Change: Tone Curve Default

The Tone Curve defaulted to Medium Contrast in Process 2010. It defaults to Linear in Process 2012. Moving an image from p2010 to p2012 forces a change in Tone Curve, rather than retaining the previous setting; since apparently retaining the setting does not retain the tone densities anyways. Medium Contrast in p2010 and Medium Contrast in p2012 mean different things, so aligning them would not be appropriate. This would indicate changes to the tone engine in Process 2012, and not clear equivalency for older images, which had been processed previously in either Process 2003 (Lightroom 1 or 2) or Process 2010 (Lightroom 3). This means that you should not automatically update the Process for pre-corrected images and expect matching tonalities. If you choose to move the Process version of an image to p2012, be prepared to readjust the tonality.

Opposing Adjustments to Blacks and Shadows

Interactions and Improvements

The new, centered, bidirectional controls offer a few advantages over the older versions. Control of black clipping against shadow detail is the clearest example. It is now possible to use the Blacks control to clip noise from the levels nearest to black by moving it in a negative direction, while independently opening the shadow area by moving the Shadows control in a positive direction, as illustrated above. Interaction between the new, and more symmetrical, controls is clearer, as well as more effective. Its now possible to adjust highlight and shadow areas without unintended clipping of whites or blacks, while it is also possible to make powerful adjustments to images from either end, both without clipping, if the end adjustment is inward, or with the inevitable clipping if the adjustment is outward. The engine underneath the new Process is improved, and more drastic adjustments to images can now be made without the the kinds of artifacts that the older, less linear, process produced.

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

Color Management and Workflow Features in Photoshop CS6 Public Beta

Concerns about Photoshop Upgrades in General

I’ve heard photographers complain, as Photoshop updates appear, that the newer versions are really not about photography, or the at least not the features they use for photo editing, and that some of the new features actually get in the way of the things they need to do. I can certainly understand this point of view, and when I see a photographer decide to “freeze” at one version of Photoshop or another, to avoid having to learn new techniques, or pay for another upgrade, or to avoid breaking older filters, plugins, and scripts that are important to their workflow, I don’t object. But I do warn them that such a choice may eventually effect their ability to upgrade to new computers with newer operating systems, or use new plugins from their favorite plugin providers, and may require developing a different workflow for getting RAW files from new cameras into their older version of Photoshop. And that the leap forward will only be more painful, the longer they avoid it.

So while we all may feel some frustration when our favorite key command no longer does what we want it to, or a rectangular box interferes with our view of what we are doing, learning the tricks to make the newer versions of Photoshop work is part of the effort of remaining up-to-date in the world of photography.

However, Photoshop CS6 appears to be a more dramatic jump forward than previous updates. This may be intimidating, and it may cause photographers to search their souls, and their wallets, before deciding to migrate to Photoshop CS6. Fortunately Adobe has a free public beta of the application available, so that a much wider range of users can try the application in advance of release than with previous Photoshop updates. While you are at Adobe Labs to download the Photoshop Public Beta, remember to download the latest Adobe Camera Raw Release Candidate as well. This version 6.7 is not compatible with the latest cameras, but it does offer other improvements for anyone opening RAW files into Photoshop CS6 PB.

The Biggest Change in CS6: The Interface

Ever since Photoshop 1 (and thats not CS1, but the actual PS1) the interface to Photoshop, with some changes for the OS and OS version, has been similar: menu bar on the top, a tool palette, typically vertically formatted on the left, and as time went on, more and more floating palettes that can be added on the right. These elements floated in free space, with your desktop showing behind them. Options to run Photoshop full screen were available, but were usually limited to displaying images to clients and other such special occasions. The Photoshop interface shown below doesn’t go back to the depths of time; its from the current release version of the product.

Photoshop CS5 interface

Photoshop CS6 breaks with this tradition. It now has its own window, with its own background. The look is darker, and the text, in some areas, is smaller, and inverted to show on the darker backgrounds. Those who use Adobe Lightroom will recognize this look, as will those who use Adobe video editing apps like Premier and After Effects. In that sense Photoshop is late to the party, and its change of interface is less revolutionary than evolutionary; evolving to follow the general trend of the Adobe line. Here’s what that the default interface in Photoshop CS6 looks like,compared to CS5 above.

Photoshop CS6 Interface

Beyond any initial shock at a version of Photoshop that doesn’t look like Photoshop, you may notice that very little else has actually changed. The same menu items, tools, and palettes are here, even if the look and feel has changed. This is not to say you won’t find yourself wandering the corridors of Photoshop CS6 searching for something you knew perfectly well how to find in CS5. But it won’t be that much more frequent an experience than it was with earlier updates. The most common questions I hear from people seeing this “bounded window” interface is whether, like Lightroom, it will limit their flexibility in moving images, using multiple displays, moving between applications, etc. I’ll address these concerns below.

The New Features, which I’m NOT going to Review

I could  include a description of interesting new features in Photoshop CS6, but it would not actually be that much different than the run-though in Russell Brown’s video on that topic. So please take a look at Russell’s video if you are curious about the cool new tools. I’ll just note that some of them extend on recent additions, like content aware fill, and may work well sometimes, and not others, so they can speed up your process, but won’t necessarily eliminate the need for classic Photoshop skills. They also include what I’m tempted to call “Feature Creep” with actual video editing, transitioning, and font abilities moving inside Photoshop. This may seem counterintuitive, after all, there are other apps for that. But as we shoot and edit more video with the same cameras we use for our still photography, being able to library video along side stills in Lightroom, and process clips in Photoshop along side stills may eventually seem not just reasonable, but obvious.

The Color and Workflow Related Items which I AM Going to Cover

Those of you who know me will already realize where my focus with any Photoshop Beta is going to be: the features and changes that effect Color Management, and the Digital Workflow. Lets start with issues of the new Photoshop  workspace window, and image location.

The Main Photoshop window, which is now a dark rectangle, can be run in full screen mode, where it is quite reminiscent of Lightroom. This means that the most common method of moving to other apps will be by using the “Hide Photoshop” command from the Photoshop menu list. This window can also be reduced in size, and will act like a typical floating window, capable of being moved around the screen, or to other screens, as desired. In this mode moving to other applications may occur by clicking on windows in the various apps to bring them to the front, the more traditional method of navigating.

Images open in Photoshop CS6 also have two possible modes. Depending on whether the “Open Documents as Tabs” option in the Interface tab of Photoshop Preferences is checked, or unchecked, you images will open as fixed tabs in the Photoshop window, and further images opened will tab with them. This method can be very convenient for checking “before and after” differences between files, and others such uses, but for many long-time Photoshop users it feels like a straight-jacket, and unchecking this box is the first thing some users do. In the unchecked mode your images are free floating windows… unless you drag them too near the top bar, or the top bar of other images, in which case they will nest in the main window, or with the other image window, forming tabs. They can be removed using the “rip a sheet off the tablet” effect, by dragging them away from the top bar of the window to free them. This tabbing behavior is not new to CS6, but has been increased by the option to nest images as tabs in the new Photoshop window; a natural extension of the previous option… or an added aggravation depending on how comfortable you become with this mechanism.

Images freed from the new Photoshop Window, can be moved off the new Photoshop background; something that is not necessarily obvious to first time users. While the background appears to define the limits of the Photoshop application, in fact its a recommendation, not an enforced rule.  So if the Photoshop workspace window is reduced to cover only part of a large screen, images can be moved off the background and stored elsewhere for later use (though fans of the tabbed interface would point out that tabs offer a much cleaner method of doing the same thing).

From a color management point of view, the new interface has its advantages; a controlled color background only makes sense. It helps assure consistent viewing conditions, and reduces variation in editing results. And for those of you who have been ignoring us Color Geeks for years, and are using color, not grayscale, images as your desktop image, the enforced backdrop is even more critical.

On the other hand, there is the question of color management for images removed from this new controlled environment. Even though the Photoshop workspace and its backdrop are limited to one of your displays, moving a free floating image to another screen triggers the correct change in display profile that has always been necessary to provide multiple display matching. So one key color concern about the CS6 is eliminated.

In fact, it is possible to stretch the Photoshop workspace to cover more than one display, though this is limited by how well the geometry of the displays in question match. Another interesting function is that moving the Photoshop workspace to another location or display will move any images tabbed to the workspace window with it, but will leave floating images behind, now displayed against your desktop or other apps that happen to be open in the background. This behavior is logical, but may take a few tries to get accustomed to.

Next; The Color Settings

The Edit menu is where the Color Settings have resided for several generations of Photoshop. This has not changed with CS6, all three of the Color Settings Commands are located in their usual places.

Photoshop CS6 Color Settings Menu

The Three Color Settings Windows accessed from this menu, shown below, are also unchanged. So color management, as we know it, has not been reshaped, as happened in the case of one or two previous Photoshop updates.

Photoshop CS6 Color Settings Windows

Next we will look at the Soft-proofing options in CS6. This is an important color management function for many users. Here, too, we find everything looking just as we last saw it in CS5.

Photoshop CS6 Custom Proof Setup

The remaining areas of concern are the Photoshop’s Printing options. Below is the CS6 Main Print Dialog. Reassuringly familiar.

Photoshop CS6 Main Print Window

The Print Settings Options are also unchanged, as shown below. This does not guarantee that color managed printing using a custom profile will be possible with all printer drivers; as some older drivers are not updated to the newer Print Path. But it does mean that any printer/driver combination that printed correctly from Photoshop CS5 should do the same from CS6.

Photoshop CS6 Print Settings Dialog

So while testing will continue, and the final word on Photoshop CS6 is yet to be written, it appears that standard color managed functions of viewing images on multiple displays using display profiles, opening and saving images with appropriate tags, and printing using output profiles are all available and unchanged in CS6, so that Color Management should not be the deciding factor on your decision on whether or not to update to the new version. I will warn you that a few weeks of working with CS6 Beta will make it difficult to consider moving back to CS5 when the Beta period expires.

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

Lightroom 4.1 Conversion Example

I have had requests for an example, not of a new image processed through Lightroom 4’s improved controls, but an older image that was problematic, moved forward to the new method. Its a fair question: what can the new Process2012 do for an older image? I selected an image that I could clearly recall having posterization and reversal issues with on original processing, and used it as an example here.

Tuscan Window Image, as originally processed

The image was shot hand-held with the Canon 5D in an abandoned villa in Tuscany, not long before the Canon 5D Mark ll became available; a fact I recall, because I wished I had the Mark ll in hand when I took what I knew would be a problem shot. Yes, a tripod and longer exposure would have helped, and yes a tripod and multiple exposures for HDR processing would have helped even more. But it was an impromptu image, without those options.

When processing later in Lightroom 2, the temptation was to gain more detail in the clouds and landscape with the Recovery slider, and more detail in the interior with the Fill Light slider. Doing both resulted in rather painterly, non-photographic result in the landscape with lack of detail and levels, but an unacceptable reversal creating a double edge to the window, and even to the tree outside the window. My solution at the time was to recover the highlights in Lightroom, and do the rest in Photoshop, to eliminate the reversals. This didn’t improve the landscape, but in this case, unlike some others, the dreamy result was acceptable. The resulting image has been popular as a small size matte paper print.

I accessed the original RAW file in Lightroom 4, and created a virtual copy of it. I left the image in Process2003 and set the Recovery and Fill Light sliders to the heavy settings that I had originally attempted, only to find I needed to back them off to avoid reversals. A closeup of the result, much as it looked the first time, is on the left below.

Tuscan Window Details, comparing older and newer Processes

I then updated the image to Process 2012, and set the tone curve to Linear, since the custom curve in the older format had not been converted in a reasonable manner, as discussed in a previous article. The resulting image (on the right above) is darker, but being darker should show the posterization and reversal issues even more clearly.

And yet it does not. Click on the image above to examine the edges in detail. The top edge of the window is very soft, but neither edge of the window, nor the tree outside, show the clear double border that occurred in the earlier process.There is less loss of levels in the landscape as well, though this closeup does not focus on that.

Clearly, it would be possible to create an improved version of my earlier image by reprocessing in Lightroom 4.1. That would require doing dust busting and other work a second time, since those steps had occurred in Photoshop, not Lightroom, originally. But for an image such as this, the reworking would be worthwhile for the improved results, and the possibility of then offering the image in larger sizes than previously possible.

If I had the luxury of reshooting the image today, a hand-held image with the Canon 5DMark lll, plus Lightroom 4.1 processing, would offer far more detail, far less noise, and more levels in both the highlight landscape and the shadow interior.

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

Lightroom 4 and How it Processes Older Image Files

The History

Photographers who have been using Lightroom for at least two years have images originally processed through Lightroom 2, Lightroom 3, and Lightroom 4 in their image libraries. Its important to understand how Lightroom 4 (V4.1 is actually used in all testing and examples) interacts with these legacy files.

Moving from Lightroom 2 (which used the original Process 2003) to Lightroom 3 (using Process 2010) was quite transparent. The newer controls which Process 2010 added showed up when these older files were opened, but the sliders for these new controls, which had never been adjusted before, since they did not exist before, were set to zero. That made sense, and required no user intervention, so did not attract much attention. If an image was reopened, the new controls could then be adjusted, and the improved image would be transparently updated from a p2003 file to a p2010 file.

Those files that had been exported to Tiff, and had dust busting, localized editing, layers, and other voodoo applied in Photoshop, could only benefit from the new controls if we started from scratch again. Well, not from scratch, all the Lightroom edits were still there, and we could apply the new adjustments as well, but all work done on the image after export would need to be redone again. Since the improvements in Process 2010 were not critical to many files, the heartbreak was minimal, as few files really needed to be reworked. The improvements now available in Lightroom 4 are not as minimal, so more users will be considering moving files forward, not just to their Lightroom 4 library, but to the new Process 2012 that Lightroom 4 offers.

The Current Situation

Viewing legacy files (and everything you ever shot and imported before upgrading to Lightroom 4, is now a legacy file) in Lightroom 4 produces a more complicated situation. The image below shows the Basic Controls from Lightroom 3 and Lightroom 4, and how they differ. I have already described these differences in a previous article, for anyone looking for more information on them. Here our interest is on the interaction of these, now conflicting, sets of controls. There are other control changes from Process 2010 to 2012, one of which will enter into consideration as we move forward.

Lightroom 3 and 4 Basic Controls

Without analyzing the controls in detail again, it apparent that that the Process 2012, Lightroom 4, controls don’t simply add new sliders to the previous generation, as happened the last time around. This time sliders disappear, or move, or get renamed, and as my previous article notes, they don’t really do the same thing. Please don’t think that I’m complaining; the new thing is vastly superior to the old thing, so I’m happy to have it available. The issue is learning how this interacts with all those images I’ve already painstakingly processed using older versions, and what havoc it might wreak on them if they are suddenly converted to a new, albeit superior, set of adjustment tools.

What This Doesn’t Effect

Files that you import through Lightroom 4 will  be fine, and look great. Files you imported though earlier versions will continue to use the process of that previous version, and the older controls will show when those images are selected, so things will be consistent with earlier adjustments. No problems with either of those cases. But what about older files that you would like to reap the advantages of the newer Process 2012?

Clearly a good deal of thought was put into this situation, from the time that it was decided that a change was needed that would not simply mean another generation of additional new functions. And I believe that the Lightroom team (or the Core team, or both) did the right thing, at least for all  existing files that remain in their existing process, and all newly imported files. The overall result is not quite as transparent as last time around, but many casual users of Lightroom would not catch on to how this change functions, without some inside information. Here’s the scoop: in Develop Mode, in the right panel, way down where scrolling is required and users seldom venture, is a small box named “Process”. It lists one of the three Process choices for any given image.

Process Options List from Lightroom 4

For images originally imported through Lightroom 2 or earlier, this defaults to p2003, unless they have been opened and reprocessed in Lightroom 3, in which case they are now 2010 images. Similarly, images originally imported through Lightroom 3 will default to p2010. Interesting things occur if you change this setting. Any adjustments you had previously made, to a control that has not been changed, will migrate forward as the file is reformatted to p2012.

This migration of existing setting includes HSL adjustments, important to those who have used SpyderCheck for color calibration. DNG profiles used for color correction should be respected in the conversion as well. Or, as they would say in the movies: *No Color Calibrations Have Been Harmed While Producing This Process Change.*

What It Does Effect

SpyderCube Exposure adjustments are a less clear cut situation. Adjustments to White Balance, Tint, Exposure, and Blacks made to a p2010 image, as they would be using a SpyderCube (or even by eye), can be converted to Process 2012 and back, and result in the same original values once returned to p2010. So the roundtrip has been managed effectively no matter what method you used for making your adjustments. But the one way trip is a different matter.

Moving from p2010 to p2012 with these same four adjustments in place results in the White Balance and Tint, not part of the changed control groups, remaining numerically and visually the same. But exposure jumps from +.25 to +.53, and the new two way control for Blacks, instead of being lowered from a default value for the camera of 20 to an adjusted value of 8 to set the blacks correctly, moves instead from its new centered location to a value of -1. If these two adjustments produced the same result visually, that would still be fine. But they do not.

The Culpret

The reason they do not is elsewhere in the  Develop Mode’s right panel. Process 2010 defaulted to a tone response curve named Medium Contrast. Process 2012 now defaults to Linear; and it doesn’t just default there, it moves there. Improvements in the other controls may have eliminated the need for the previous sin of the Medium Contast bump. But it causes some difficulties for us old sinners. Simply setting the control to Linear when in P2010 does not allow for a transparent conversion, as it then results, in p2012, in a reverse curve which is the equivalent of medium to linear, but now, starting at linear, is linear to negative medium. It can be debated whether this is a bug or a feature in LR4.1, but it would seem to be closely related to the custom tone curve bug in Lightroom 4.0.

Another detail to be aware of is that, once a file has been changed from the p2003 or p2010 setting to the p2012 setting, even if it is toggled back to its original Process again, the Reset button no longer resets it to its original Process State and Tone Curve as it did before. Instead it will now bump it forward to the p2012 state, and the 2012 default Tone Curve of Linear. So, in that sense, you can’t go home again. This is why duplicating your library, backing up your catalog, or at least making a virtual copy of a given file, before changing Process Versions is a good idea.

The Fix

To avoid ending up in unexpected places, with custom tone curve values you did not ask for, or very different shadow detail, the following order of steps is used:

* Open legacy image

* Set Mode to Develop

* Scroll down the Right Panel to Process

* Change Process from 2010 (or 2003 for even older files) to 2012

* Scroll back up to Tone Curve

* Reset Tone Curve from Linear, to Medium Contrast

Your image should now have the same shadow detail and midtone densities as it did in Process 2010, assuming your file was at the p2010 default Tone Curve of Medium Contrast. You may now choose to use the superior capabilities of Lightroom 4 and Process2012 to open up the shadows without excessive noise… perhaps by changing the tone response curve back to Linear. Or by other methods. And you can now use the new controls replacing Recovery and Fill without fear of the posterization and reversals that occurred with the older controls.

The Implications

Given the automatic tone curve change, and its significant impact on shadow detail and lesser effect on midtone values, automatically converting an entire library of legacy images to Process 2012 would not be recommended. Instead, at least until the dust settles, and other possible fixes are added to a future Lightroom 4 update, updating images to use the new process should be a one-at-a-time affair, with manual changes to the Tone Curve setting, or other shadow detail adjustments to compensate. One batch-oriented solution would be to bring the key image (for SpyderCube users, thats the one with the Cube in it) forward, allowing the Medium to Linear change to occur, then to readjust the image again in the Linear State, and apply this correction to the entire batch of following images from the same light source once they have been moved to the new Process as well. This would effectively “launder” all the images from their dependance on the shadow bump in the old Medium setting to the more literal Linear mode, with a minimum of tweaking.

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