Tag Archives: Lightroom CC 2015

Adobe DNG HDR Format, Part 3

I’m  back once again with even more information from Lightroom developer Eric Chan, and best practices for creating HDR RAW files in Lightroom CC 2015 / 6.  Previously we reported that Adobe recommends just two exposures for creating an HDR DNG file, which was and is true, but now Eric expands on that idea, and explains under what conditions you might want to add more than two exposures.  Before we begin, if you haven’t caught up on this topic, check out Part 1 or Part 2 in this series.

Eric starts with some advice on merge speed:

More images in an HDR merge will take proportionally longer.  2 frames is [normal,] 3 frames is even longer, etc.

Whether or not a third (middle) frame will help will depend on a lot of things, including the tonal content of your scene, and the spread of your exposure bracket.  Keep in mind that a third frame increases the likelihood of misalignment between the frames.

If merging two frames, I generally recommend they be within 3 stops of each other.  For example, I’ll capture one shot for the highlights, then open up 3 stops and capture another frame, then blend those two.

I don’t recommend merging two frames that are super-spread apart.  Continuing the above example, I would NOT recommend shooting my second image by opening up 6 stops.  Why not?  Because I am likely to see some range of tones in the merged result that are visibly more noisy than other tones.  These are the pixels that are clipped in the 2nd (bright) shot, and therefore the HDR blending algorithm needs to grab those tones from the 1st (dark) shot, which is noisier for those pixels.

So it’s fine to use the in-camera HDR bracket facilities, including ones that allow you to take 3 shots quickly, like 0/+3/-3.

Some examples:

0/+1/-1:  I would just merge the +1 and -1 shots (they’re within 2 stops of each).
0/+2/-2:  I would merge either the 0/+2 shots or 0/-2 shots (depends on how I metered the scene).  For very high contrast scenes, I’d merge all three.
0/+3/-3:  Similar to the 0/+2/-2 case.

I would consider the +1,5/-1,5 case “3 stops apart”.
The +3/-3 case would be 6 stops apart.

So there you have a more detailed version of “best practices” for shooting Lightroom HDR.

If you’re a Canon 5d mk III user, you likely know that you have an in-camera HDR function.  The camera produces a merged JPEG for you, but it also keeps the RAW files.  You can use this and just ignore the JPEG.  I do not own a 6D or a 7D mk II, but since they’re also newer Canon bodies, I suspect they may have the HDR feature as well.

If you don’t have one of these bodies, or if you want more control over the bracketing, or if you’re on the 1DX, you can also use the AEB tools to create 2, 3, 5, or 7 shots bracketed at any difference from 1/3 to 3 stops each.  Check out the AEB section of your manual, or do a little Googling to learn how to use these features.

If you found this post helpful, please like, share, or follow.  Happy photo-ing!

Do I Need A Powerful Video Card for Lightroom Classic CC?

[This article was originally posted in April of 2015. As of January 2019, this advice still holds true. For example, I have an Nvidia GTX 1070 video card. While editing hundreds of images in Develop module over nearly 1.5 hours, I could not get the GPU usage to go much higher than 10%. If you’re building a computer, and you’re wondering if you should spend big bucks on your video card for Lightroom, as of this update, my advice is still “no.” (If you’re a gamer, spend the money, but understand it’s not LR that will benefit from it.) It’s conceivable that Adobe adds some feature in the future that will really leverage a big GPU, but at this stage it’s a gamble to spend big money on the hope that this happens.]



The work Lightroom is doing just isn’t that hard.  Any relatively recent solution will work great.  There is no difference between using Lightroom with GPU acceleration on my desktop which has a monstrous discrete nVidia gaming card, versus using it on my Late 2013 Retina Macbook Pro, which only has integrated Intel Iris graphics.

While the Intel Iris graphics is remarkable considering it’s an integrated solution, it’s still light years from the power provided by my big gaming card (benchmark comparisons show my nVidia card outpowers my Intel Iris graphics by anywhere from 10x to 50x.)  And in spite of that, in Lightroom, both provide identical user experiences.

This is not a comment like “one is faster, but not by much.”  This is a definite, “there’s no difference, don’t waste your money.” Continue reading Do I Need A Powerful Video Card for Lightroom Classic CC?

Adobe DNG HDR Format, Part 1

With the launch of Adobe Lightroom CC 2015 / Lightroom 6 and it’s matching version of ACR, we now have the ability to create high dynamic range RAW files via DNG.  It’s pretty impressive that you’ll get all the benefits of RAW such as whitebalance, tint, highlight recovery, etc, in a single file that’s much smaller and significantly more editable than a 32-bit TIFF.

And yet you may have also heard that this new DNG capability is built on a 16-bit technology.  “Wait!”  You think… “doesn’t that mean I have more flexibility with a 32-bit TIFF file??”

Not quite.   Continue reading Adobe DNG HDR Format, Part 1

Lightroom CC 2015 / 6 and Face Recognition Indexing

This feature is of no interest to me at this time, so for practical how-to advice I’ll refer you to many of the other, excellent photography resources such as Victoria Bampton, the Lightroom Queen.

That said, I did want to provide some advance warning to anyone with a large catalog.  (Note that the normal process of the catalog upgrade to make it LR6 compatible should be about what you’ve experienced in the past.)

If you elect to have Lightroom index for faces, then the next step could take a very long time indeed.  One tester with a catalog of hundreds of thousands of images reported that it took over 150 hours for Lightroom to finish it’s face indexing.  You have been warned.

Are you excited about face tagging?  How will you use it?

Adobe Lightroom 6 Perpetual License

Yes, there is a perpetual license version of “Lightroom CC 2015” available.  Unsurprisingly Adobe named it “Lightroom 6.”  The names are different, but the two are largely the same except that the non-CC (aka “perpetual”) version does not provide access to Lightroom Mobile and Lightroom Web.

Adobe is marketing the cloud subscription model with all its might so you may find it difficult to locate any mention of the perpetual version, but it does exist.  I’ll put up a direct link as soon as I have one, but for now  Go to Adobe’s Lightroom product page, scroll all the way to the bottom, and look for the “buy now” button in the box for Lightroom 6 Standalone.  You can also try using this direct link, which will add one copy directly to your shopping cart.  In either case, it will default to the full version with a price (as of this moment) of $149.00.  Once it’s in your cart, you can click the “Edit” button in the upper right to change it to an upgrade version for $79.00.  Upgrade pricing is available to anyone who owns any version of Lightroom 1 through 5.  These links are only for Adobe’s “ESD” (Electronic Software Download) version, which lets you download the installer online, but does not include physical media.

[Edit 1: Some have noticed that you won’t see the option to buy the perpetual version if you are logged into your Adobe account.  Try logging out and then reloading the Adobe Lightroom product page.  To clarify, this page will not show you the Buy Now option if you are logged into an Adobe account.]

[Edit 2: After changing from the Full version to the Upgrade version, you’ll need to tell it which version you currently own before you’ll see the lower price reflected in the shopping cart.]

[Edit 3: The link for a perpetual version in the UK appears to be here.  I’m not UK based, but I hope this helps.  Thanks to @UK_Richard for the link.]

If you take regular advantage of both Lightroom and Photoshop upgrades, you may save some money by subscribing to the Creative Cloud Photography plan.

Adobe Lightroom CC 2015 / Lightroom 6

As of right now, the next major iteration of Adobe Lightroom is available for download.  If you’re on one of the CC subscription plans, updating should be as simple as visiting your CC control panel.  If you prefer to buy a physical disc or a one-time download, (what Adobe refers to as “perpetual license buyers”) then you should be able to visit your favorite software retailer to snag a copy, or check out this post for links to a perpetual ESD version.

So what’s new?  Why upgrade?

There are a lot of resources available all over the web to tell you about every single new feature.  Personally, I’m a wedding photographer.  This means I use Lightroom in a very specific way, and I care a great deal about some features, and not at all about others.  Keep this in mind as you read this post, because I’m not going to attempt to be another “me-too” list of all the minutia.

Here are the significant reasons to upgrade:

  1. GPU acceleration:  This only affects tool and slider interactivity in the Develop module, but it’s still the most significant addition to LR6/CC.  If you’re on a very high resolution screen (2560×1440 or higher) then you’ll see a marked improvement in the responsiveness of sliders, brushes, and filter tools.  If you’re on a 4k screen or one of the 5k iMacs, then this is the answer to your prayers.  For more information see my video on Lightroom’s new GPU acceleration.
  2. Activity Center:  More of a nicety than a new tool.  Clicking on the ID plate in the upper left Module Picker bar will show a detailed list of background activities and their progress meters.
  3. Quick Develop:  If you shift-click in the Quick Develop panel, Lightroom now applies adjustments in smaller increments of 1/6th stop.
  4. Import Speed:  This is specific for Mac users who noticed that Lightroom took forever to copy files from memory cards vs just using finder.  Lightroom CC/6 should now import files from your memory card just as fast as finder would copy them.
  5. Library Export:  Exporting images now takes much better advantage of your computer’s CPU.  Lightroom will internally kick off up to 3 simultaneous renders, and in most cases will fully saturate all of your CPU cores.  This tuning adjustment has not been applied to DNG conversions within the Library, only to exports such as outputting JPEGs and such.  Users on older, less powerful computers, may find it difficult to continue working on other tasks during exports as a result of this tweak.
  6. Moving Folders & Files:  Moving folders or large groups of images from one folder to another is now significantly faster than under Lightroom 5.
  7. Brushable Gradient & Radial Masks:  You can now use a brush to add and subtract from the Gradient and Radial mask tools.  Press Shift-T to enable brush editing of the currently selected mask.  For more information see my video on Lightroom’s new brushable filters.
  8. Constrain Brush:  You can now hold down Shift while moving the brush to constrain the tool to horizontal or vertical lines.  You can also click to set the start point, then Shift-click to set the end point, and Lightroom 6 will draw a straight line between the two points.  To see this in action, check out my video on Lightroom’s new brush constraints.
  9. Reposition Brush Strokes:  You can now select and drag pins to move your brush strokes.  If you prefer the old behavior where clicking and dragging on the pin would increase or decrease the strength of the pin’s values, simply hold Alt or Option while dragging up or down.
  10. Photo Merge:  This is the universal name for Lightroom’s ability to merge Pano and HDR files into a DNG and maintain the full functionality of a RAW file.  Here’s a video about Panorama Photo Merge, and another video about HDR Photo Merge.
  11. Backup Compression:  Lightroom will now compress your backup catalogs with the .zip format.  This helps prevent you from accidentally opening and working in a backup catalog, but even more important, it saves an enormous amount of storage space.  One of my Lightroom catalogs is 2.48GB, but the compressed backup is 363MB.  If you’ve ever discovered 20GB of your drive was lost to Lightroom catalog backups, this will help a lot.  Note that you still have to clean up old backups manually.
  12. Reset Preferences:  If you need to do some troubleshooting of Lightroom, one thing you may have done in the past is resetting its preferences.  Previously, this required rooting out all the preference files and putting them in the trash manually.  Now you can hold Option-Shift (Mac) or Alt-Shift (Win) while launching LR, and it will reset the preferences for you.
  13. Windows Interface Scaling: If you’re on a high PPI display with a Windows machine, you now have a 250% option for UI scaling.

Face recognition will be huge for some users, and of no interest at all to other users.  I’m in the latter camp, but I’d be remiss to completely ignore the feature.  I won’t provide a lot of practical how-to usage advice, but if you’re looking forward to Lightroom indexing your years of photographs, anticipate it taking a long time.  Some testers have reported hundreds of hours for very large catalogs with hundreds of thousands of images.

If you decide to disable face indexing, be careful not to press the O (oh) key.  This will take you to the face tagging screen, and turn face indexing on all in a single move.

Be sure you have the latest video drivers.  OSX users cannot update drivers themselves – your updates are baked into your OS updates.  Windows users should follow the link relevant to their hardware:

I personally have seen crashes on nVidia drivers as recent as January 2015, that were solved by the March 2015 drivers.

Keep an eye on the top of this blog, or follow me for continued updates!