Want to read up on Lightroom? We’ve got you covered!

Today, Craft & Vision re-released Essential Development by Sean McCormack. Essential Development covers 20 case-studies of Lightroom’s Develop Module. It was originally released last year but it has been updated for Lightroom 5.

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Intensify Pro – een nieuwe Lightroom & Photoshop plug-in


Intensify Pro is een nieuwe Lightroom & Photoshop plug-in die meer controle over contrast, textuur, structuur en scherpte toelaat. In deze video krijg je een korte introductie.  Binnenkort komen nog meer MacPhun video’s online.

MacPhun maakt ook Snapheal (verwijderen van ongewenste voorwerpen in een foto) en Focus (creatieve blur-filters). Een vierde plug-in, die ik al in beta mocht testen en die zeer de moeite waard is, komt er deze zomer. De plug-ins zijn apart verkrijgbaar maar ook in een bundel. Die bundel is gedurende een weekje in promotie: voor 99€ krijg je de drie plug-ins, da’s een korting van 50%. Bovendien krijg je gratis de mysterieuze vierde erbij wanneer hij uitkomt! De plug-ins zijn hier verkrijgbaar.

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Ladakh & Kashmir 2014 Photo Workshop: Monks, Monasteries & Mountains

20100917_Lamayuru_2836-Edit-Edit-Edit-Edit-bewerkt-2I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be co-leading another photo workshop in India in 2014. After the very popular (and sold out) 2014 Rajasthan Photo Tour & Trek, travel and humanitarian photographer Matt Brandon and I will team up again to explore the beauty of Ladakh and Kashmir, in the North of India.

The main part of the workshop runs in Ladakh, where we will be visiting ancient monasteries, photograph the barley harvest in small mountain villages and nomadic life near the mountain lakes. All of this against the stunning backdrop of the Himalayas. This first part of the workshop runs from September 8th to September 19th. After that, you can either go home with your memory cards full of wonderful images or… join us for the optional four day extension to Kashmir. I’m particularly excited by the Kashmir extension, as – contrary to Ladakh – I haven’t been there yet. But Matt has lived there for years, so he’ll be an excellent host. During the extension, we’ll be staying on houseboats on a lake, so that alone will be quite the experience!

Although the workshop’s still nine months away, if you’re interested, don’t hesitate too long: there are only 9 spots available and 6 of those are already taken with another one almost gone as I’m typing these words! More info can be found on Matt’s website. There are also a number of beautiful images to be found on Matt’s blog. They give you an idea of the kind of images you’ll be able to make yourself. As Matt’s are all in colour, I’ll leave you with some of my Black & Whites from my previous visit to Ladakh, in 2010.

Leh, where mosques & monasteries meet

Leh, where mosques & monasteries meet

Mother & child, Ladakh

Mother & child, Ladakh

Village life, Ladakh

Village life, Ladakh

Woman with prayer wheel, Lamayuru monastery

Woman with prayer wheel, Lamayuru monastery

Barley harvest at Lamayuru village

Barley harvest at Lamayuru village

Woman in traditional dress, Leh

Woman in traditional dress, Leh

Monks calling to prayer

Monks calling to prayer

Man passing prayer wheels, Ladakh

Man passing prayer wheels, Ladakh

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Lightroom 5.2 is available

Lightroom 5.2 has been released yesterday so let’s see what you should know about this update.

New camera support

Normally, Lightroom will prompt you to install the update automatically. If it doesn’t, choose Help > Check for Updates. There’s the usual list of new cameras whose raw files are supported (including the brand new Fujifilm X-M1 and the X-A1) and new lenses that have been profiled for use in the Lens Corrections Panel. The full list is available at the official Lightroom Blog. Furthermore, there’s 4 new cameras for which tethered support has been added: the Canon Eos 6D, 700D, 100D and the Nikon D7100.

New features

Contrary to other dot releases, there are also a couple of new or improved features:

    • The new Smoothness Slider for advanced Color Noise control

      The new Smoothness Slider for advanced Color Noise control

      There’s a new Smoothness slider in the Color Noise Reduction section of the Detail Panel. The slider addresses low-frequency color mottling artifacts. Personally, with the Nikon and Fujifilm cameras I use, I find I rarely need to move the Noise Reduction sliders away from their defaults, but it’s good to have in case you need it.

    • The new Feather Slider in the Spot Removal Tool

      The new Feather Slider in the Spot Removal Tool

      There have also been some refinements to the Spot Removal Tool. The most obvious is a new Feather slider, that works both with Circle Spots and the new Brush Spots, and that deals with how soft or hard the edge of your spot blends into its surroundings. The auto-find logic (that determines suitable source material) has also been tweaked: it now favors areas that are in the crop you set. It still doesn’t get it right all of the time, but as you may know from my Lightroom 5 Up to Speed eBook, pressing the forward slash (/) key forces the tool to pick a new sample area, or you can adjust it manually by dragging it where you want. By the way, I have a video about the new Brush Spot features in Lightroom 5. You can check it out here. I also recently did a video about an advanced Spot Removal tip, which you can watch below:

  • The behaviour of the Auto Exposure tool (the Auto-button in the Develop Module’s Basic Panel) has been improved: it should now be more consistent across different images and different image sizes. Personally, I never use this tool except when I do Lightroom demos.
  • Smart Previews, one of the highlight features of Lightroom 5.0 are now 2560 instead of 2540 pixels.
  • The new Context-Sensitive menu for Adjustment Brush Pins

    The new Context-Sensitive menu for Adjustment Brush Pins

    Finally, there have also been some tweaks to the Local Adjustment Brush: right-clicking an adjustment pin brings up a context-sensitive menu that allows you to duplicate or delete the adjustment. Ctrl+Alt+Dragging (Win) / Cmd+Opt+Dragging (Mac) also allows you to clone (duplicate) that adjustment but contrary to how that same shortcut works in the Radial Filter, it does not let you move the duplicate. So, it only creates a duplicate-in-place. This is also different from what you can do in Adobe Camera Raw 8.2, where you can effectively duplicate AND move an adjustment brush mask.

Bug fixes

Timelapse by Dave Delnea is an excellent and affordable ($5) eBook primer on how to get started with Timelapse photography.

Timelapse by Dave Delnea is an excellent and affordable ($5) eBook primer on how to get started with Timelapse photography.

There are also a number of bug fixes which I won’t bother to list (you can find them on the official Lightroom blog), except for one that may be relevant if you’re a timelapse-photographer: in Lightroom 4, lots of timelapse-photographers used custom-built Lightroom slideshow templates to render their timelapse videos. It was a workaround, but a popular one.

However, under the hood, Lightroom 5 introduced a new slideshow engine which broke this option. Lightroom 5.2 fixes the problem, to a degree. You can read the full lowdown of what this update means on Sean McCormack’s blog – he made a number of these timelapse presets. There are also a couple included in Craft & Vision’s excellent Timelapse eBook. If you’re really into Timelapse, you might check out Gunther Wegener’s LR/Timelapse plugin. It’s a paying option but it has a lot more options, including de-flicker control.

Photoshop Photography Program

The Photoshop Photography Program: a killer deal for existing Photoshop customers

The Photoshop Photography Program: a killer deal for existing Photoshop customers

The release date of this Lightroom update is also important for something else: you can now subscribe to the Photoshop Photography Program. As you probably know already, new versions of Photoshop, InDesign and the other Adobe Apps will only be made available on a subscription basis: the Creative Cloud. Lightroom and Photoshop Elements however, are still available as a regular, old-fashioned ‘purchase license’. Until last week, those of you who wanted to use the latest version of Photoshop and didn’t need the full-blown Creative Cloud (all Adobe Apps in one), had to opt for a ‘Single App’ Creative Cloud membership, which cost $19.95 per month. A lot of amateur photographers, found this to be too expensive. Enter the Photoshop Photography Program: if you’re an existing user of a commercial license (i.e. not a student/educational license) of Photoshop CS3 or higher, you can now get Photoshop CC (the continuously updated latest version of Photoshop), 20 GB of Cloud Storage and a Behance account for only $9.99 (€ 9.99) + taxes (VAT). And, best of all, you get Lightroom (and its updates) as well! That’s a really, really good deal. The offer is valid until end of this year. Contrary to other Creative Cloud promotions, this is not a ’9.99 per month for a year, and then the price will go up’ kind of deal. It is the price, as long as you have a commercial license of PSCS3 or higher and you subscribe before the end of the year. More information can be found here!

Happy Lightroomin’ :-)

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Review: The Visual Toolbox eBook by David duChemin

I cannot count the number of times that people who’ve enthusiastically taken up photography have asked me to recommend ‘a good book’.

With literally thousands of books aimed at beginning photographers, that’s a tougher recommendation to make than you might think. Some books are more philosophical, others are more practical. Focusing too heavily on the why is no good for people who still struggle with the how. As the Romans used to say: ‘Eat first, philosophise later’. Yet, as I’ve noticed on more than one occasion: you can know the answer to all of Photography’s how’s and have a truckload worth of gear – but still be unable to make an emotionally resonating photograph.

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Content Aware Fill, the Lightroom Way

You probably know by now that the Spot Removal tool in Lightroom 5 has been updated to include brush strokes. The following short video tutorial shows you how to make finishing touches combining one big brush with smaller, overlapping ones to hide the seams. It’s not quite as powerful as Photoshop’s Content Aware Fill, but you’d be surprised at what it can pull off!

Interested in more tips, follow @mtwpiet on Twitter, subscribe to the newsletter (in the column to your right) or have a look at my 400 page Lightroom eBook bundle or my Dutch print book on Lightroom 5, ‘Lightroom 5 Ontmaskerd’.

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Two days only: 50% birthday sale over at Craft & Vision

This weekend, Craft & Vision is turning four. I’ve been writing for them for about three years now and I’m honored and thrilled to be. In the past four years, two of my print publishers have gone bankrupt, but Craft & Vision is thriving as never before.

To celebrate,  Craft & Vision founder David duChemin let himself be photographed in a pink tutu. If you start to doubt David’s mental sanity, wait until you read the following: today and tomorrow (26 and 27 august) only, every eBook and preset package in the Craft & Vision store is 50% off, including past issues of PHOTOGRAPH quarterly magazine. That’s 50% off of the already ridiculously low prices (most eBooks are only $5 to begin with). So, have a ball! Make sure to check out the store because there’s something for everyone, ranging from more ‘philosophical’ eBooks to practical ones. Below are a couple of their titles I recommend with regards to Lightroom:

  1. Essential Development by Sean McCormack. Essential Development covers 20 case-studies of Lightroom’s Develop Module. It was originally released last year but it has been updated for Lightroom 5. It’s over 100 pages and contains a bonus preset pack.
    Was: $7 – Now: $3.5 for two days only
  2. My very own Lightroom Bundle, which consists of a 300+ page Lightroom 4 eBook * which includes over 40 Case studies (that are still every bit as relevant for Lightroom 5), 10 Pro-Cases that cover advanced techniques you’ll rarely find discussed elsewhere, such as synching Lightroom catalogs via Dropbox or moving your entire Lightroom installation to another computer and my 77 page Lightroom 5 Up to Speed eBook, covering the new features of Lightroom 5 in detail.
    Was: $20 – Now: $10 for 2 days only
    * If you already know your way around Lightroom 4 and only want to read up on the updates, you can also purchase Lightroom 5 Up to Speed separately. It was already a bargain at $5 and for two days, you can get it for $2.5
  3. Dodge & Burn Lite Package: this best-selling eBook teaches you how to use Lightroom, Photoshop and selected plug-ins to selectively brighten or darken parts of your image to better guide your viewer’s eyes through the picture. More than anything else, Dodging & Burning is what makes your images come to life! The eBook comes with a custom Photoshop panel (that also works with Photoshop CC) that by itself is worth far more than the eBook’s price and that’s received some glowing reviews.
    Was: $5 – Now: $2.5 for two days only. There’s also a Full Package, for only $3 ($1.5 during the sale) extra, that has a more advanced version of the panel and also contains exercise files. If you have Photoshop and/or like to have the exercise files, I’d actually recommend the full version.
  4. I really love David’s Lightroom presets and a couple of his have become a staple in my workflow. Furthermore, I’ve used some of the other presets in his preset bundle to build upon and create my own versions. They come in a bundle with Dave Delnea’s equally cool Lightroom presets.
    Was: $18 – Now: $9 for two days only

These 4 items together represent some 600 pages of Lightroom training, almost an hour worth of video tutorials and 182 presets, all currently for $25! But that’s two days only!

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Review: Damien Lovegrove’s ‘Basic Photograph Enhancement using Adobe Lightroom’

About five years ago, I followed a lighting workshop with the ever energetic Damien Lovegrove. The quality was such, that I’ve mentioned Damien’s workshops in the introduction of my Lightroom books. In the past couple of years, Damien has also released a couple of lighting training videos (such as his Speedlight Mastery), most of which I own too, and that I can heartily recommend: although not a substitute for a real workshop, they are of course a lot cheaper and they are produced to the same professional standards as Damien’s regular workshops.

When I booked my workshop, I had booked a second day of one-on-one training with Damien’s in-house picture editor, Marko Nurminen. My idea was not so much to learn about Lightroom itself, as I was already an Adobe Lightroom Certified Expert at the time. Rather, I wanted to see how a professional uses the application in real life. I was amazed at the speed with which Marko blazed through Damien’s images, using very soft and big brushes for local adjustments where I, up to then, tried to make painstakingly exact – but also painstakingly time-consuming selections. I still remember Marko joking: ‘Your problem is that you know too much about the application’, meaning that I sometimes focused too much and too long on the particulars while losing sight of the general picture. Wedding photographers and other high-volume photographers simply cannot dwell on the same image too long or they force themselves out of business.

Fast forward to August 2013. Prolific Damien has released a new video training called ‘Basic Picture Enhancement Using Adobe Lightroom’ and as its name implies, it’s not about photography this time but about postproduction in Lightroom. I was lucky enough to receive a review copy so here it is… my review!

The video comes as a two-part download totalling 1 1/2 hours of training. Until the end of August, it costs about £10 (down from the normal price of £17.95). In the video, Damien goes in real-time through thirty (30!) fashion – no landscapes here! – images using only Lightroom’s tools – and not even all of them: apparently, Damien will release another training video that will dive into some of Lightroom’s more advanced features. So, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that he averages only 3 minutes per image.

As a consequence of this premise of showing you his real-time workflow, Damien shows you how he uses the tools, but he doesn’t always go into a lot of detail on the technicalities of each of the tools nor does he spend a lot of time on many of the available tool shortcuts or alternatives. In other words, it’s not a reference kind of manual, nor is it meant to be.

So, if you’ve never used the adjustment brush or the graduated filter, you might look at an additional resource. I can heartily – and shamelessly – recommend my own Lightroom Unmasked PDF eBook bundle: nearly 400 pages of written, fully searchable and hyperlinked Lightroom goodness, available at www.craftandvision.com). It’s an ideal complement to the video training. But what this video training does offer in spades (and what is often lacking in other Lightroom training) is information on the why: why does he darken down a corner or a why does he reduce the saturation in a specific part of the image?

From the video’s title and the range of tools covered, you might think that people most likely to benefit from its contents are beginning Lightroom users. However, I think this focus is too restrictive. Even if you’re an advanced Lightroom user (or maybe especially if you’re an advanced Lightroom user), you may learn from this video albeit on a different level: you might realize that you can do a great deal with limited tools in a limited amount of time and therefore, this video might teach you to better manage the time you spend in Lightroom.

I for example, found it refreshing to see …

  • How Damien still likes to work with big, feathered brushes for local retouching: the size of the feather makes for a seamless transition between the retouched and the unretouched parts of the image. If you’re used to making really pixel precise selections in Photoshop to dodge or burn a face, as I was five years ago, then this will be a real eye-opener;
  • How Damien uses graduated filters to create custom vignettes;
  • How he often exaggerates the effect of a local adjustment to see what he’s doing, and then dial down the effect to the desired amount.

Now, do bear in mind that photography is a two-stage process: there is the capture and there is the postproduction. The better a photographer you are and the more attention you pay to your lighting during capture time, the less time you’ll need to spend in postproduction. And of course, all of these images were shot by Damien, most of them using controlled lighting. So, most images already look fairly good to begin with and the amount of postprocessing needed to bring them at an even higher level obviously is more limited than when you would start out with badly underexposed, overexposed, or overly contrasty images.

One thing I would have liked is the ability to download exercise files (maybe not of all 30 images but say 10 or so) with a snapshot of the finalised setting, so people can experiment for themselves. With the current possibility of downsampling big raw files to lossy compressed DNG’s, the addition of a couple of exercise files doesn’t need to take up lots of bandwidth.

Other than that, I think this video offers, as I’ve come to expect from Damien, excellent value for money and is therefore highly recommended. If you’re interested, don’t forget to grab it before the end of the month and save some 40%. For beginners, Damien’s latest production will give you a nice overview of all the things you can achieve in Lightroom, without even going to Photoshop while for more advanced Lightroom users, it may show that less is more. I for one am already looking forward to the sequel!

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A Smart Object workflow to enhancing Dynamic Range with Nik Software, Photoshop and Lightroom

This is a follow-up post to a previous post, in which I explain how I use a black & white plug-in, Silver Efex Pro, to automatically enhance the Dynamic Range of my color images. The video below shows you the basics. I recommend watching this one first, if you’re new to this.

Now, as for the actual subject of this blog post: when you buy Silver Efex Pro, you’re buying it as part of the Nik Collection, which also features other plug-ins such as Viveza and Color Efex. Also, as mentioned in the previous video, there are a couple of Silver Efex presets that work really well for this technique while others don’t. So that got me thinking: ‘What if I could semi-automate the procedure?’ So, I made a Photoshop action (which is still in the test phase, although if you would like to receive it once I’m finished tweaking it, let me know via the contact form) to automate the workflow to some extent. The idea behind it and a couple of cool other techniques like nesting Smart Objects, is shown in the video below.

Just to be complete: the Nik plugins also work in Lightroom but the advanced workflow I show in the video does require Photoshop’s Smart Objects functionality. If you’re interested in getting a copy of Nik Software, you only have two more days (until end of July) to use this affiliate link and get an extra 15% off on the already discounted $149 price. On August first, the price goes up again! Just use discount code MORETHANWORDS15 upon checkout (in fact, it should already be filled out if you use the link) and you’ll get the bundle of all six Nik plugins for about $126 (or about €100). UPDATE: THE AFFILIATE PROGRAM HAS ENDED BUT THE DISCOUNT STILL SEEMS TO BE WORKING (CAN’T SAY FOR HOW LONG IT WILL, THOUGH)…

If you have any questions regarding this video, contact me via the contact form.


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Enhancing color images with Silver Efex Pro 2

Last time I did a video in which I showed the excellent black & white capabilities of Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro plugin for Lightroom & Photoshop. But what if told you that I also use Silver Efex Pro to enhance the dynamic range of my color images? Curious? The video below shows you how. If you think Silver Efex Pro 2 is an addition to your black and white (or, after seeing this video, color workflow) using this link gets you an extra 15% off on the already discounted $149 price. Just use discount code MORETHANWORDS15 upon checkout (in fact, it should already be filled out if you use the link) and you’ll get the bundle of all six Nik plugins for about $126 (or about €100). Other included plugins are HDR Efex Pro, Viveza and Color Efex Pro, of which you can see a video here.

If you have any questions regarding this video, contact me via the contact form.



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