Lightroom 6

I have downloaded and installed Lightroom 6.

I saw the release announcement and attempted to purchase and download; however, it was difficult to find the upgrade product because everything now seems to point to CC.  The forum members at dpreview came to my rescue with a direct link and instructions on how to purchase or upgrade the standalone version.

Next, I looked at the new features and a single feature provides sufficient benefits to justify the upgrade.

So, I purchased, downloaded and installed the upgrade.  The only hitch in the process was the inability of the installation process to auto discovers a suitable upgradable product on my laptop.   This was easy to fix by visiting my account at Adobe and copying and pasting my version 5 license key into the installation screen.

Why do I use Lightroom?

I have almost twenty years of digital experience and with that a substantial volume of photos.  Most of the photos are for my own enjoyment or available for purchase at my website.  I also have shot a few cooperate engagements as well as a few weddings.  I quickly discovered that managing the resulting assets and reducing darkroom time was most important.  Lightroom provides the best platform to achieve those goals – at least so far.

How do I use Lightroom to reduce darkroom (post processing) time?

Photos are imported from SD media to a 1 TB USB 3.0 disk drive.  I use Seagate slim drives because of size and speed.  After files are loaded, I add keywords, titles, descriptions and GPS locations.  I look at each photo and flag it as a reject or a pick.  I exit Lightroom and backup the catalog.  I use Rich Copy 4.0 to copy the changes from the Photo drive to the Photo backup drive.  Now and only now I format the SD media in camera.

At my leisure, I rate photos, post process (develop) photos and publish.  I attempt to keep photos in their original state without creating what I call vectors.  This greatly simplifies management of assets and versions and allows me the capability to alter the original at any time.

I upgrade Lightroom to reduce the number of outside edits required to post process files.  Outside edits create a vector that requires additional management and work to make changes.

What are the new features in Lightroom 6 that reduce time and vectors?

filter bushGradient and Radial Filter edit feature.  Want to adjust the sky but a feature sticks out in the middle.  Before Lightroom 6 you could use a gradient and then the adjustment brush to paint out the effects.  Of course you had to make basic adjustments with each tool.  Or, you could export the photo to Photoshop thus creating a vector.  With this feature, use the gradient or radial filter and erase the part you don’t want.  And, if you are like me and bracket photos, you can sync the filter between exposures.  Worth every penny of the upgrade fee!



HDR Source PhotosPhoto Merge.  You can now merge photos to produce HDR effects or panoramas.  Both of these features required outside programs to accomplish.  I have Photoshop CS 5 and Photomatrix but will be using Lightroom instead.  Benefit, the resulting HDR or panorama is a raw file (dng) that has full Lightroom development capabilities.

HDR Result

Lightroom 6 use Graphic Process Acceleration instead of the main CPU to process video changes.  This feature didn’t work on my machine because the Intel graphic card did not have the necessary horsepower.

I haven’t tested facial recognition because I don’t see an advantage.  A portrait photographer may see that differently.

There are a host of other enhancements that I have not tested.  The enhanced slideshow option may work well enough that I can discontinue using other tools – I hope so.  I will review additional features in later post.

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Cary Photographic Artists

Adobe Lightroom is a digital asset management and photo editing solution.  The below presentation provides insights into lightroom architecture and basic functionality.  A followup presentation in July will provide more in-depth information on topics requested by adding comments.

Download the PDF file .

And now for the sequel. After the Shutter Closes II cover keywording, lineage, interoperability, better black & whits, radial filters, spot removal and soft proffing.

Download the PDF file .

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Grand Falls Arizona

Grand Falls Arizona

Grand Falls is a natural waterfall system located 30 miles (48.3 kilometers) northeast of Flagstaff, Arizona in the Painted Desert on the Navajo Indian Reservation.

At 185 feet tall (56 meters), it is taller than Niagara Falls.  It dumps snow melt or monsoon rain into the Little Colorado River below. It is famous for its extremely muddy flow which is a major contributor to Little Colorado River opacity. It is said that the waterfalls are analogous to flowing chocolate depending on the amount of water present. Heavy rains or snow melt will produce spectacular viewing, photography and sound whereas the scarcity of water will produce only trickles or no flow at all.

Grand Falls was formed when lava from nearby Merriam Crater flowed in to the Little Colorado River creating a lava dam. The river was forced to reroute itself around the dam and Grand falls formed where the reroute rejoins its original course.

The waterfall is remote and no major paved roads access it. In fact the closest road, Grand Falls Road, crosses the floor of the Little Colorado River and at times during the year; only a 4 x 4 vehicle can traverse it. The falls are dormant for months of the year and reduce to only a drip. However, we visited the falls near it’s in late March as the snow begins to melt. 

Getting There

To access the falls a passenger car can reach the south side of the river. However, that is dependent on current conditions.  The day we traveled was dry and there was no evidence of adverse conditions.  If snow is on the ground the road would not be easy to follow.  We  (I traveled with Ivan Martinez, a Phoenix area photographer) also used a GPS and it provided directions and kept us on the correct road.

  1. 1.      To drive to Grand Falls proceed east of Flagstaff to either exit 207 or 211.
  2. 2.      Turn north and proceed to County road (Co Rd) 394. From 211 turn left.
  3. 3.      Turn north (right) onto Co Rd 419/Leupp Rd.
  4. 4.      Drive 19.9 miles to unmarked Indian Route 6910 and turn left.
  5. 5.      Drive 7.9 miles and turn right onto Indian Route 70.
  6. 6.      Drive 1.7 miles to Grand Falls.

Note:  Your GPS will probably recommend you turn onto 70 at 14.8 miles – we did, don’t do it!  The road is much rougher than 6910 and you stay on a paved road for a greater distance.  As a matter of fact, if the weather is dry, you can drive a car.

Admission is free but the site and the roads to it are located in the Navajo Nation so leaving the roads or trails is against Navajo Law. Picnic benches are provided at the viewpoint. The trail to the bottom of the falls is one-half mile long and easy.

Getting the shot

It was overcast for most of the time we were at the site.  The bad news, we had no hope of getting a good sunset shot because of the overcast.  The good news, the light was soft.    

We first visited the floor of the falls with a relatively easy walk to the northwest and then back toward the falls area.  Be aware that the hike is easy but there are no guard rails so take care traveling into and out of the lower area.

There was a lot of light and I used two stacked neutral density filters (Cokin P.154 & P.153) and a polarized filter along with f22 stop to reduce the shutter speed to 2 seconds or about 6.2 stops.  I lost some resolution by using so many filters but the falls flow blurs enough to make the shot more pleasing.


I use Photoshop Lightroom 4 and CS5 to process photos.  I try to use Lightroom as much as possible and always shoot in RAW.  Theses shots required adjustments to bring out the most in the photos.  The title photo is a four vertical shot panorama processed in CS5. 


I tried using a couple of stand-a-lone panorama software packages but in the end, used Photoshop CS5.  I selected the four photos in Lightroom, right clicked, selected “Edit In…” and finally “Merge to panorama in Photoshop”.

In Photoshop is selected the standard stitching procedure and it generated the panorama.  The initial merge was flattened into a single layer and I used the Lens Correction filter to remove distortion with the custom settings.  I had to pass the panorama through the filter three times to remove all of the distortion.  I then saved the panorama (it was placed by Photoshop back into the original folder with the initial photos) and made final adjustments.  I then stacked the four original photos and the panorama with the panorama set as the title photo.



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Shades of Night

Home in Governors Club February 10, 2006 featured in Clarolux ADDY winning catalog. 30 sec at f/22 17 mm ISO 200 Nikon D100

Do you remember the Platters and their song, Twilight Time?  It started with “
Heavenly shades of night are falling, it’s twilight time…”  Twilight time is the best time of day to photograph night scenes.
When you come home at night or visit a friend at night, it is inviting if the house is surrounded by light. It is also safer.

Steve Roberts started Carolina Outdoor Lighting and needed photographs of his work to use as examples for homeowners of his night lighting system.

Steve’s requirements:

  • His lights to appear without a yellow cast
  • Balanced lighting without glare
  • Shots should be dramatic
  • Most of all, photos should represent a nighttime scene

Ok, so some of this is easy, reduce the yellow cast by shifting the color balance below daylight color of 5500 Kelvin (I usually set just below 5000); however, photos of houses at night, while dramatic, will be too dark if the lights are dark enough to prevent binkies (binkies are blown highlights or areas that exceed the maximum light capacity of the sensor).

To solve the problem, shoot the house at twilight time.  Just like the song, this time of day provides enough ambient light to offset the landscape lights but I dark enough to appear as a night scene.

So when is twilight?  Well, that depends on time of year and which twilight.  There are three levels of twilight:  Civil twilight is just after sunset or just before sunrise and by this light, you can read a book.  Nautical twilight is the between twilight where you cannot read but you still can see light.  Astronomical twilight is, well dark.

The best time to take nighttime photos is at civil twilight.  Photographers Ephemeris (refer to the software page for more information about this application and app) provides information for any given date and or location regarding sunrise, sunset, and twilight times.  The absolute best time is within five minutes of civil twilight time.  Of course, you can experiment with earlier or later times but I have found that this is exactly when ambient light will most closely match artificial light.  The actual time of day will be impacted by of orientation of the photo.  i.e., shooting directly into the direction of sunset will incur a brighter sky while shooting directly into the direction of sunrise will result in a darker sky.

I usually set my exposure using my spot meter, checking the meter against the brightest artificial light, and then adjusting the exposure by increasing the exposure time by seven stops. 


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Through the Ages Portrait

Through the Ages

When my mom turned 80 we decided to throw here a party and invite friends and family to a celebration.  I wanted to provide a memorable portrait of her and decided to juxtapose her current photo with her 16th birthday photo.   I added drama to the composite by having both ages face each other and then fading the young her to light gray creating a ghosting effect.  I then printed the photo 16×20 on canvas and displayed it at the party.

Everyone raved at the concept and later I created a similar photo, for a friend, who
accompanies World War II veterans to their memorial in Washington DC, and gave
the photo to the veteran on his birthday.

For my mom’s photo I had a recent photo with a black background which simplified to
process.  However, you can use a conventional photo by selecting the subject and then placing on his or her own background layer.

I can create a similar photo for you.  You will need a photo of the subject in their early years.  If you do not have a recent photo of the subject, I can create one.  Please contact me with your requirements so I can provide you with a quote and timeline.

If you want to create a similar effect, you will need a copy of a Adobe Photoshop and a scanner to digitize the early portrait.










Startby loading the two photos into Photoshop.  I first converted the portrait to a layer.  Then I expanded the portrait size to accommodate the addition of the younger face.  Use
File, Canvas size.  My photo was 2000 x 3008 pixels and I expanded the size to 4000 x 3008 (expand 2000 pixels).  I also created a new layer to be the background and filled it with black.

select backgroung

Next, I selected the background area of the younger portrait so the background would
not be included in the finished portrait.  I know, that language is a little confusing but it’s easier to select what you don’t want instead of what you want.  I first used the quick selection tool.  Then, I converted to a mask and refined the selection to incorporate areas
that were difficult to select with the tool alone.  Then I used refine edges to refine the hair
area and finally touched up the selection using the mask.  Finally, I inverted the selection to capture only the young person.  See, I told you all would be clear later and this is later clarification.

I copied the selection and pasted it into the expanded canvas of the other portrait.  Then, I held the shift key and resized the copied portrait to best fit.  Then, I flipped the selection vertically to have the young and old face each other.

The final step is to adjust the opacity of the young layer to 50% to produce the ghost
effect of the final picture.

Note that the background is the bottom layer and that the other layers are on top of
black.  This would be the same if you make a copy of the older portrait.  Also, having the background on a different layer provides options for different background colors or variations.

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Before Irene

Holden Beach visit before Hurricane Irene

Claudia and I visited friends at our favorite family beach, Holden Beach, last month just before hurricane Irene visited the east coast.  We like Holden because it is family oriented and is near restaurants and golf courses.  We usually stay on the beach and can enjoy the sounds and sights of the ocean and I can take sunrise and sunset photos.

Holden is located near Shallotte North Carolina and has a south facing beach.  In the summer, the sun comes up and sets just behind the beach (see yellow and orange lines on screenshot below), which can create interesting light.  Beach weather is different from the surrounding area because sea breezes push weather inland by about five miles.   This weather condition can also create interesting light.

We had just arrived and were sitting in the great room when I noticed the most dramatic sky I have seen in the past five years at Holden.  I quickly unpacked my camera and tripod and snapped the follow photos.

 Before the storm

Looks like a conversion to black and white – right. Look at the beach and you will see a little color. Natural light produced the effect.

Sunrise at Holden Beach

The next morning we had a beautiful sunrise with lots of clouds and color. I was up during Astronomical twilight, took this photo just before civil twilight at 6:03 AM. The light was strong and I used six stops of neutral density gradient filters stacked to bring down the sky light enough to prevent blown highlights.

Sunset before Irene

That evening I snapped the below picture just before sunset be after the sun had gone below the clouds. I took this handheld picture without a filter in balanced light. I was focusing on the serpentine shape of the reflection of the sunset in the retreat of a spent wave. The surf was angry this night as Irene approached. She arrived and we left the following morning.











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