Lightroom Previews – and getting Lightroom to fly

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(Pipeline, Hawaii, 2015).

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Introduction

In this article I will talk about Lightroom Previews and their effects on freeing disk space, restoring missing files and enhancing performance.  This might seem an obscure and esoteric topic but there are items in here of interest to everyone using Lightroom, even including people on old and slow PCs.  We will discuss:

  • What are previews?
  • Saving disk space by trimming your Lightroom catalogue
  • Missing and excluded images
  • Regenerating missing images
  • Speeding processing with smart previews
  • Optimising performance in Lightroom and Photoshop

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What are Previews?

Lightroom creates a variety of previews to speed up display and processing of images.

Standard previews are by default the number of pixels your screen is wide so you can quickly see an image filling up the screen.  This only applies to the Library module (except briefly in the Develop Module while the RAW file renders).

1:1 previews allow you to zoom in to 1:1 in images displayed in the Library Module (i.e. not in Develop).

There are also smart previews but we will discuss them separately later.

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You can see the settings defined for your previews in the Edit/Catalog Settings/File Handling dialogue.

  • Standard previews default to your monitor resolution.
  • The setting “Preview Quality:  High” relates to thumbnails.
  • You can set to discard your 1:1 previews after a day, a week, a month or never.

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You can define previews when you import files, by specifying a value for “Build Previews” under File Handling in the top right corner of the Import dialogue.

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Alternatively, you can select files in Lightroom and use the command Library/Previews/Build Standard Previews or Library/Previews/Build 1:1 Previews.

If you don’t have a problem with disk space you might as well retain 1:1 previews indefinitely and create them while importing files.  This slows down import but makes Lightroom run faster.  If you don’t define 1:1 previews, Lightroom will create them on the fly with a significant impact on performance in the Library module.

 

Saving disk space by trimming your Lightroom Catalogue

One of the ways you can improve the performance of Lightroom is to use an SSD as the hard disk for your catalogue.  Since the storage capacity may be small, the size of your Lightroom Catalogue may become a problem.   For example, when I put my catalogue on my new 500GB hard drive (an M.2 SSD), I found I was left with less than 10% free space, too little for reliable performance.  So I had to find a way to reduce it.

There are four elements associated with the catalogue

  • The Catalogue itself. Mine was 3.6GB.  I have seen people advocate clearing Develop versions in Lightroom but that seems to me a waste of time.  You lose functionality and only save a couple of gigabytes, which does not solve the problem.
  • Catalogue backups.  I had 22.7GB here and you can save some space by deleting old backups but this wasn’t enough to solve this problem.
  • The Cache. Many versions ago, Lightroom benefited from a huge cache but this is no longer required.  The default is 1GB and you can have more than that but 10GB will be plenty for most people.  Stored cache files may build up to a few GB and you can clear them with Edit/ Preferences/ File Handling/ [Purge Cache].
  • The Previews. This is where all the files were, 391.3GB in my case.  Reducing this is not as easy as one might think.

 

Catalogue backups offer some scope for space saving by changing the drive where you store the backups.  You can’t set this from inside Lightroom but you can change it in the dialogue that appears when Lightroom is about to make a backup.  It also makes sense from a security point of view to have the backups on a separate drive to the catalogue.

Previews is where all the action is though for saving space.  We saw above that you can discard 1:1 previews after a day, a week, a month or never.   I had mine set to Never but you’re supposed to be able to remove them with the command Library/Previews/Discard 1:1 Previews.  I decided to remove all 1:1 previews for images rated at less than 3 stars (85% of my images) but it only reduced the stored previews by 0.4%.  I then read on an Adobe performance guide that this only works where the standard preview size (2560px in my case) is less than half the resolution of images from your camera (4193px for the Nikon D3s).  So I reduced the standard preview size to a low number, reopened Lightroom and tried again.  That was better but not much.  I only reduced the stored previews by 5%.

So that left only one option – to delete the Previews file and start again.  In other words, I deleted the folder Lightroom Catalog Previews.lrdata under the folder for the Lightroom catalogue.

Whoompa!  Previews to zero!  Lightroom still works!

So what do I need previews for again?

  • Standard previews let you quickly see the image full screen in the Library module.
  • 1:1 previews let you zoom into 100% in the Library module, for example to compare the sharpness of one image against another to determine what to delete or what to retain.  This doesn’t apply to viewing images in the Develop module or zooming in one-to-one because there you are accessing the actual RAW file.

My next step was to create new 1:1 previews using the Lightroom command Library/Previews/Build 1:1 Previews (see previous image).  I decided to create them for all my images with 3 stars or more, plus current working folders.  That took a long time.  More than a day and a half for 23,000 images.  After that I had a previews folder 141.4GB in size, 64% smaller than it was.  That solved my disk space problem.  Lightroom also seemed to create standard previews for all images automatically, which I wasn’t expecting.

 

Missing and excluded images

Do you have missing images or images unintentionally excluded from your catalogue?
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On the left-hand side on the library module, right click on a folder and select “Synchronise folder…” .

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The Synchronise Folder dialogue appears.  It may show you have photos in that directory that have not been imported into Lightroom, or photos in the catalogue that are missing on your hard drive.

If [Import New Photos] shows images in that folder that are not in Lightroom, you can click [Synchronize] to import them and see what they are.  After the import, you can select them all under “Previous Import” at top left of the Library Module and then click on their folder (left pane in Lightroom) to compare the new selected images with the ones already there.  They may be images you want to have in your catalogue or they may be images you meant to delete from the disk but instead just removed from Lightroom.

Missing photos may simply have been moved in Windows Explorer (so Lightroom doesn’t know where they are).  If you have some, you can click [Show Missing Photos] to see what they are.  You can then click on the little exclamation mark that appears at the top right corner of an image to locate them.  Alternatively, the missing images may have been deleted or lost.

However, before you remove any previews, especially 1:1 previews, you should check that you don’t really need them.  As we shall soon see, you may soon be able to use the previews to recreate missing images.

 

 

Regenerating missing images

A few years ago, I had three hard drives fail within a week, two in my main data drive (a RAID array) and one in my Drobo backup (essentially another RAID array). When the smoke cleared (metaphorically), I realised I had holes in my backups.  Whole directories of files now showed in my Lightroom catalogue as missing.  Fortunately, I left them there and did not delete the previews.  Quite recently, I realised I could regenerate those missing images which were still in my catalogue, using Jeffery Friedel’s Preview Extraction Tool.  Because they were 1:1 previews I was able to recover them as full-sized jpegs, good enough to print from.

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You can have to copy the regenerated images to a different location, but you can copy them all into a single folder or preserve a whole folder structure.  You can also retain image metadata and Lightroom’s metadata including star ratings and colour labels.

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Speeding processing with smart previews

Normal previews and  1:1 previews speed operations in the Library Module; smart previews speed processing in the Develop module.  They are actually miniature RAW files and save in a folder under your catalogue taking about 2% to 5% of the space of the photos themselves. They were introduced some years ago as a means to let you keep processing while disconnected from your data when travelling.  However, they are just as useful to greatly improve response time in normal editing.

First you need to generate the smart previews, which you can do on import or by the command Library/ Previews/ Build Smart Previews (see third screen shot above).

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In current versions of Lightroom (from CC2015.7 and 6.7), you can select a checkbox to use smart previews instead of originals for image editing.  (Edit/ Preferences/Performance).

Changes transfer instantly to the original RAW files, and stay there even if you discard the smart previews.  The only limitation is for sharpening and noise reduction; custom sharpening done on a smart preview will not transfer well to the original file.  However, if you zoom to 1:1, Lightroom is showing you the original file so it is safe to use smart previews with custom sharpening, as long as you do that at 1:1.

If you are using an earlier version of Lightroom, you need to trick it that your folder is offline.  If you close Lightroom, rename the folder say by adding ” xxx” at the end, then reopen Lightroom, you are working with your smart previews.  To transfer the changes to your RAW files, you will need to close Lightroom and rename the folder back.

You might retain smart previews indefinitely if you’re not short of disk space.  Still, you only use smart previews when you’re processing in Develop module so you may not need to keep them for long.  Unlike the 1:1 previews, discarding smart previews works OK.

 

 

Optimising performance in Lightroom and Photoshop

The specification of your PC is one of the main factors affecting the performance of Lightroom and Photoshop.  I wrote an article about that a while ago.  A new generation of chipsets and motherboards has come out but everything else should be pretty much unchanged:

Adobe also provides useful guides to optimising performance in Lightroom and Photoshop:

 

Summary

  • To increase Lightroom performance by running it on a small fast SSD, you may need to reduce the size of your Previews file
  • You may be able to recover deleted or lost images by regenerating files from the 1:1 previews
  • Standard and 1:1 previews speed Library module operations; smart previews speed Develop module operations
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Exporting Digital Images for CPS Competitions

This is for Lightroom users who enter Canberra Photographic Society competitions.

If you enter a  Projected Image or a Print competition, you will need to upload digital images to the CPS Smugmug site.  In order to do that, you will first need to export to a jpeg on your local drive.  I will show you how to do that with a Lightroom export preset that is largely automated so that you only need to update the image file name.

First, select an image in the Library tab in Lightroom,

  • then click the [Export] button at the bottom of the left pane.
    • (Alternatively, you can right click the image and select [Export…]).
  • The following screen will appear.

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Export

(Click on this image to see it larger in a separate tab)

Here I have clicked on my saved preset CPS Digital Export. All I have to do now is to update the file name and then click [Export].

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So how do we create the preset?  We start from a blank screen and fill it out as follows:

  • Export To:
    • Select [Hard Drive] from the drop down at the very top (probably the default)
  • Export Location
    • Export to [Specific Folder]
    • Click [Choose…] to specify what folder you want to use
  • File Naming
    • Check [Rename To:] and specify [Custom Name] from the dropdown
    • Specify a default filename in [Custom Text] such as “A_Open_XXX_MurrayF”
      • A_Open or B_Open.  Change later to A_Set or B_Set for specific files
      • I use XXX as a placeholder for a quick image description (eg “Eagle” or “Chameleon”)
      • Instead of MurrayF, use your name: first name plus first letter of surname
  • File Settings
    • Image Format = [JPEG]
    • Color Space = [sRGB] or [Adobe RGB (1998)]
    • Quality = 80 (or other value you may prefer)
    • Check [Limit File Size To:] and set it to [2048]K
  • Image Sizing
    • Check [Resize to Fit:] and select [Dimensions] from Dropdown
    • Specify [2048] x [1536] [pixels]
      • (This will work for both landscape (H) and portrait (V) format images)
    • Resolution 72 pixels per inch
  • Output Sharpening
    • Sharpen for Screen, Amount Standard (this will be default)
  • Watermarking
    • Leave unchecked

Now you have specified all the details; you just need to save the preset.

  • Below the preset area at the left, click [Add]
  • Specify the name for the preset (eg “CPS Digital Export”) and click [Create]

So now you have the preset, you don’t need to make any of those changes again apart from modifying the filename to suit.

Next time you need to export a digital file for a CPS competition:

  • Click [Export…]
    • This brings up the Export dialogue box
  • Select the preset you created
  • Modify the file name
  • Click [Export].

 

How to Print

Part 3 of a three-part series on printing:

  1. Why Print?
  2. What do you need for Printing?
  3. How to Print

In this post we will cover the following topics:

  • Introduction
  • Soft Proofing
  • Print Settings and Presets
  • Advanced Black and White
  • Test prints
  • Printing

 

Introduction

Printing is the primary vehicle for creating photographic art. In our digital age photographic printing is both more readily available and more capable of high quality than ever before.  The most popular methods involve Lightroom and an Epson printer so that is what I will cover here.

Lightroom is the world’s most popular photo editing program with a simple interface that is easy to understand.  My focus here is merely on printing.   For more information on Lightroom there are many videos on the web including:

  • Julianne Kost: Many free videos from Adobe
  • Luminous Landscape: A systematic set of videos.  You need to be willing to pay an annual $US12 for access to the site.

People who use Photoshop or non-Epson printers will still find this post relevant though some details will differ.

 

Soft Proofing

Soft proofing means simulating on your screen how the image will appear as a print on a particular paper.  The most important prerequisite to make this possible is to calibrate your monitor with a good colorimeter.  A colorimeter is a small device that reads colours and densities as it sits on your screen.  It then delivers a monitor that shows your images with accurate colours and tonalities.

If you don’t have a profiled monitor, there’s no point trying to soft proof because your monitor won’t be able to display accurate colour.  It may look accurate to you but our eyes and our brain are very good at making lighting appear neutral even when it is far from that.  Tungsten light (old-style lightbulbs), fluorescent light and daylight, for example.  In this case, you can still print but there will be a greater difference between your monitor and a default print.  Probably you will end up spending much more time and money in paper for testing and your print quality may not be as good.

It helps to have a good monitor and it helps to have a good colorimeter (such as an X-Rite i1 Display Pro).  It is also an advantage to have a wide gamut monitor (with an aRGB gamut rather than an sRGB gamut).  No matter, you can work with whatever you have as long as your monitor is profiled with a reasonably good colorimeter.

OK, you have selected an image to print and you have a profiled monitor so we’ll go to the Develop Module in Lightroom for soft proofing…

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How to Print - Develop screen for soft proofing

Here we have the Lightroom Develop screen with soft proofing turned on.  You won’t be able to see much detail at this size though if you click on the image it expands in another screen to 1920×1200 pixels, which may be useful if you’re on a PC.  In any case, I’ve also expanded key parts of the screen to talk about them.

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How to Print - Soft proofing check box.

The first thing to do is to check the [Soft Proofing] checkbox, towards the bottom left of the Develop screen.  Your image then displays as though a print against a white paper background.  Lightroom adjusts the colours and densities to match that.

Just to the left of the [Soft Proofing] checkbox is a split box.  Just to the left of that is a rectangle containing a darker rectangle.  That button is active so that the overall screen at the top shows a single image, the image to be printed.  Clicking on the split box splits the screen to show both how your unchanged image would look as a print and how it would look after you make some adjustments.

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How to Print - Develop screen Profile settings.

The next thing is go to the top right of the overall screen to specify the profile for the paper you intend to print from.  This shows inside the box above.  You select from a dropdown list and in this case it is a profile for a matte paper.  In most cases this will be a generic paper profile from the manufacturer of the paper.  It is possible to generate your own printer profile but for most people this will be overkill.  If you’re printing on an Epson paper, that profile will come with the printer, though it’s always a good idea to check the US Epson site to see whether they have a newer and better profile there.  If you’re printing on a non-Epson paper, you can download a profile for that paper from that manufacturer’s site.

Different papers can create quite different prints.  Semigloss and particularly glossy papers can produce much darker black and brighter colours.  Some glossy papers  have a distinctive sheen and glossy papers can be easily damaged.  Matte papers have a reduced tonal range and may be suitable for more subtle prints.  I suggest starting off with one semigloss paper, perhaps later or also a matte.  It may be better to develop a “feel” for the papers than perhaps initially confuse yourself with too much choice.

You can change the profile setting above through the dropdown to simulate how your print will look with different papers.  If you have more than one paper available, that might help you to choose.

Below the profile setting is the Intent.  You can choose Perceptual or Relative.  Relative is usually the more likely choice.  Perceptual may be more useful where you have bright colours that may be in danger of going out of gamut.  The printer gamut is the set of colours and densities that the printer can accurately display.  Relative keeps in-gamut colours accurate but clips out-of-gamut colours; Perceptual should work better with out-of-gamut colours but may distort in-gamut colours.  You can try each to see which seems to work best for your image.  Often it makes little difference.

[Simulate Paper and Ink] should be checked.

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It’s even possible to have an image that’s essentially impossible to print.  This image from the 2013 Sydney Blues Festival looks as though it would print easily enough but the blue especially is so far out of the printer’s gamut that it comes out dull and murky and I couldn’t get it to work, even after repeated tests.  Usually this is not a problem, only for a few images with very intense stage lighting or in some cases, flowers.  It is possible to test for out of gamut areas in both Lightroom and Photoshop but Jeff Schewe advises that this feature is not accurate and not to use it.  He says that he will recommend a method for Adobe to fix this in future versions.  Therefore, I will not be covering that.

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How to Print - Virtual copy for Soft proofing dialogue box.

When the [Soft Proofing] checkbox is checked and you make a change to the image, the dialogue box above appears.  I usually choose the far right option, which creates a virtual copy that retains all the changes you make to make the print.  Creating a virtual copy means that Lightroom leaves your RAW file unchanged and creates another set of instructions to modify the image, stored in a sidecar file or the catalogue.

Lightroom is a non-destructive editor that records all your changes and allows you to reverse them.  The image shown in the overall screen at the top is a modified soft proof.  There is a History section at the bottom left of the screen which starts with the entry for creating a proof copy and shows all the changes I made to enhance the print.  You can go back and click on that image if you want to see the History section in a larger view.

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How to Print - Develop screen Changes.

Using the usual Develop screen sliders, I made some changes to the proof copy to make it more suitable for printing.  The slider positions above include those changes but also the changes to optimise the print before the soft proof.  Such Develop settings can vary widely from image to image.  In this case, I made small changes to a variety of settings including highlights, blacks, clarity, lights, darks and tone-curve shadows.  Usually I will make much fewer changes and sometimes none at all.  Even subtle changes can often make a difference though.

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Print settings and presets

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How to Print - Print screen Profiles2

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We have soft-proofed to enhance our image for printing.  We now go to the Print screen in Lightroom so we can print.  What makes life much easier here is that you can save your settings for a particular paper and size, and then reuse that time after time.  I’ll show you what those settings need to be and how to save them as a preset.

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How to Print - CM Dialogue

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First, in the Print Job section at bottom right of the Develop screen, under “Color Management”,we set the Profile and the Intent to the settings we used for soft proofing (in this case, Crane Museo Portfolio Rag and Relative).  Draft mode printing is off.  Print resolution is 360ppi for an Epson printer (and can even be 720ppi if your file size is not too small).  Print sharpening I leave on at Standard.  This is output sharpening and not something you can set by eye.  Media Type should be glossy or matte according to the paper.  This is so the sharpening works properly; matte papers need more output sharpening.  Leave Print Adjustment off.

Now we could click the [Printer] button (on the Print screen above), set up Properties, and go through to print.  But we’re not going to print yet, we’re first setting up a preset and any print setting we make will be lost if we exit out of the Print dialogue without printing.  So instead we’ll click on the [Page Setup…] button at bottom left.   The Epson [Print Setup] dialogue pops up.  Next we click on [Properties].  This may appear slightly differently for different models of Epson printers.

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How to Print - Printer Properties

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First we need to set the media type which here is here is Velvet Fine Art.  You will find this setting in the documentation for your paper profile or you may even be using the Epson paper Velvet Fine Art.  We can ignore the [Custom Settings…] and [Paper Config…] dialogues here.

Next, we’re printing colour so we choose “Color”.

Print Quality is “Quality” which here means 1440×770 dpi.  If we were printing on a glossy or semigloss paper, we would probably choose “Max Quality” or 2880×1440 but there is no point for a matte paper.  Different printer models may have different names for these terms.

Mode is “Off (No Color Adjustment)” because we are using colour management – printing with a profile from a profiled monitor.

Source is specific to the printer and the different choices you have for paper feed for different papers.

Size here is 13×19 in, or A3+.

Now we have finished with all our print settings so we click OK and return to the main screen to save the preset.

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How to Print - Create Print Preset

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To name and create a new print preset, we go to the top left of the Print screen and click the plus sign [+] to the right of the heading “Template Browser”.  For example, there is one already there for “SC_P800 Crane Museo Portfolio Rag A3+”.  Now each time you go to print on that paper on A3+, you can click on that preset and everything is set up.  You don’t need to go through each time and carefully set those parameters.  As well as making printing much quicker it greatly reduces the risk of a mistake.

 

Advanced Black and White

Many Epson printers have an “Advanced Black and White” mode.  This gives deeper blacks and potentially better image quality for black and white prints.    However, if you want a toned monochrome, you are probably better of printing colour as above, or you will have to set the toning by trial and error in a dialogue box.

There are two things you need to do to print in ABW mode.  First, at the bottom right of the Print screen, where we set the profile of the paper, instead select “Managed by the Printer” from that dropdown.

Then we need to make a modification to printer properties (screen capture before last).  You can get to the Printer Properties dialogue box through [Page Setup..] at the bottom left of the Print screen, if you are setting it there or defining a preset.  Otherwise you clicking the [Printer…] button at bottom right of the Print screen and get to it on the way through to printing.  In either case, instead of setting Color to [Color], set it to [Advanced B&W Photo].  That also changes the value for Mode to [Neutral] and makes an [Advanced] button appear.

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How to Print - Color Controls

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Clicking the [Advanced] button takes you to this screen. You can set toning by dragging the cursor round in the big colour wheel.  The dialogue only shows you how the tone of that specific image of the young woman changes though, not the image you are trying to print.  At the top, I always leave Color Toning to [Neutral] though other values are cool, warm and sepia and you can always click on those to see where the cursor goes in the colour wheel.

For the P800, I leave tone as [Dark].  I seem to recall the recommended setting was [Darker] for the 3800 and 3880.  May be cause for experimentation and testing.

ABW isn’t colour managed to you can’t soft proof for it – though you can if you get a custom profile from Image Science (you won’t be able to roll your own here).  This still won’t allow you to soft proof toning though.

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Test prints

Having a calibrated monitor and creating a plausible soft proof will get you much of the way to a successful print.  In some cases you’ll be able to print straight off the soft proof with no adjustments.  In other cases you may need to put some time and effort into test prints to fine tune your final output.  The soft proof is very useful but it can only take you so far.  Prints have a texture, a physical presence and you’re looking at a reflected surface instead of the equivalent of a slide (i.e. a transparency film  – do I need to say that for anyone?).  And if you’re printing without colour management, you’re likely to expend much more paper and time and even then have less chance of “getting it right”.

Fortunately, Lightroom has some easy and powerful tools for generating test prints.

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How to Print - Test Prints 3

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Here we are using a 4×5 grid on A3+ paper to print out up to 20 test prints.  This is a preset I created for just the arrangement of the grid.  First I click on one of my A3+ presets for a specific paper, then I click on the preset for the grid.  But if we look at the Print Job section at the lower right (as shown four screen captures up), we will see that [Draft Mode Printing] is checked.  So we uncheck it and that reveals the paper type from the initial preset.  I could have saved the grid preset with [Draft Mode Printing] unchecked but then it would have been for a specific paper.  That would be a better option though if you use only one paper.

I made the grid preset by modifying the [4×5 Contact Sheet] preset provided with Lightroom.

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How to Print - Layout 2

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Starting from that preset, I checked [Rotate to Fit] so images rotate to fill the cell.  Also, because the Lightroom preset was designed for an A4 sheet, there was too much space between the cells.  I unchecked [Keep Square] towards the bottom and adjusted the Cell Height.

When printing out test prints, you’re usually going to want to make several passes on the same sheet of paper to print on all the squares.  You can do this by adjusting the rows and columns.  For example, suppose you want to start printing on the third row.  I can see from the ruler to the left of the images that the top of this row starts at 19.5 cm.  I change the number of rows in the Page Grid from 5 down to 3, and increase the Top Margin from 0.28cm to 19.5cm.  (I can see the ruler because at the bottom of the screen above, I have the Guides checked, including the borders of the cells and the ruler at the sides.)

At the bottom of the Guides section, I have Dimensions turned off.  When on, that shows the actual size your image will print at, as a small label at the top left of the image.  This is just for the screen view and does not print.  It is not relevant for test prints but very useful when you come to make the print, especially if you are printing for an existing matte.

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How to Print - Page

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Further down the right side of the Print page, there’s another setting that can be useful for test prints.  After checking the [Photo Info] checkbox, I’ve specified a label to occur below the images.  Currently it’s set at Filename but there are various choices including Caption and Title.  You might be printing a set of virtual copies of the same image with variations on a setting, say exposure.  You might like to record abbreviated labels in either Caption or Title such as X +0.5, X +1.0, X +1.5, X +2.0. They would then print out below the image so you can be sure to identify the correct modification.

Finally, a general point.  If your prints come out too dark and you have a calibrated monitor, then you may be calibrating to too high a brightness.  Personally, I use 100 cd/m² for semigloss/ glossy papers and 90 cd/m² for matte.  If your colorimeter can’t set the brightness, then you need a better colorimeter (or perhaps just the software for it, if you can upgrade that).

 

 

Printing

Right then, you’re ready to go to print, perhaps to print out some tests.  It’s a good idea to first print out a nozzle check on plain A4 paper, particularly if you haven’t used the printer for a while (From the Print screen, [Printer] brings up the Epson Print Dialogue, then click [Properties], select the Utility tab and choose [Nozzle Check]).

To print you press [Printer] to bring up the Epson Print Dialogue.  You may wish to click [Properties] to double-check your print settings.  Then you press OK….

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Hopefully, after a few minutes, a wonderful print will emerge.

 

 

Further Reading

Photoshop and Lightroom Updates

(News from the Ether)

New versions of Photoshop and Lightroom are available – Photoshop CC (2015) and Lightroom CC (2015).  The upgrading process is a lot more straightforward and automated than for the CC 2014 upgrades.

Main changes appear to be:

  • New dehaze filter  (Lightroom and ACR)
  • New black and white sliders for Gradient Filter, Radial Filter and Adjustment Brush (Lightroom and ACR)
  • Improved processing of Fuji RAW files in Lightroom/ ACR
  • Improvements to content-aware fill (Photoshop)

However, new features such as the dehaze filter are not available in Lightroom 6 (just the CC option).  It is not clear whether they will become available later.

For short videos on the changes, see Julianne Kost’s Blog.

 

FastRawViewer

(News from the Ether).

A new product, FastRawViewer may be of interest to some.  It is made by the same people that produced RawDigger.  As the name implies, it is a viewer with minimal editing capabilities.  Its value is that it offers a genuine RAW histogram, that you don’t get in Lightroom for example, or I would think other RAW processors. It also offers focus peaking to help assess sharpness.

This means that you can quickly scan your RAW files and determine which are accurately exposed (with no blown highlights) and perhaps sharpness.  You can then assign stars or colours to your selected images and these will come across when you import them to Lightroom.

  • If your images are already in Lightroom, the stars or colours you assigned don’t come across automatically.  You will see a little vertical arrow at the top right of an image.  If you click on that you get a warning that metadata has been changed and can select [Import Settings from Disk].  You can do this for many images at a time.
  • Alternatively, if your images are already in Lightroom, you could remove them first before assessing them in FastRawViewer.  (Press Delete, then select Remove rather than Delete from Disk)
    • Ratings will then show automatically when you re-import the images to Lightroom
    • However, if you have made changes to the images in Lightroom and you have Edit/Catalog Settings…/[Automatically write changes into XMP] unchecked, you will need to first save metadata to file (Metadata/ Save metadata to file or [Ctrl][S]
      • In other words, in Lightroom you can write change to the catalogue or also write them to sidecar files.  If you only save to the catalogue and remove images from the catalogue without first saving the metadata to file, you will lose any changes you have made).

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Maui Taxi

Here is an example of the main screen.  I also have an array of thumbnails to select and navigate with on a separate pane in my other monitor .  You can see overexposed areas by pressing [O] and underexposed areas by pressing [U].  There are both in this image.  The underexposed areas (with no detail) are behind the grille and do not matter.  The overexposed areas are mainly reflected sky on the windscreen and probably do not matter.  If I really wanted to correct that in Photoshop, I could sample the windscreen colour, apply that to a blank layer at just off full white and blend using “Darker” blending mode.  It is, incidentally, an infrared image and this is not its final appearance.

When I first checked FastRawViewer out last month, it was too slow on my PC to be usable, taking around six seconds to turn over from one image to the next.  Nasim Mansurov did not find this in his review so it may depend on how your PC is configured.  However, having downloaded the new version 1.1.1, speed is no longer a problem for me so it becomes usable.  It’s quite cheap.  You can download a trial for free and it only costs $US20.

 

Release of Lightroom 6 and Lightroom CC

(News from the Ether)

There is a new version of Lightroom.  You can either purchase an upgrade to Lightrooom 6 or get it as Lightroom CC if you have a subscription.  New features include:

  • Panorama Merge (to DNG file)
  • HDR Merge (also to DNG file)
  • Filter Brush (partially remove the effects of another tool)
  • Face recognition (probably assigns ketywords)
  • Advanced video slideshows
  • Performance improvements (GPU processing)

Click here for more details from Nasim Mansurov.