Lightroom is a place where a lot of photographers spend a ton of time, and any tips you can pick up to speed up your workflow or improve your image quality can pay off quite a bit. This helpful video tutorial will show you five tips that will both make your workflow more efficient and increase your image quality.
Coming to you from Lucy Martin, this great video tutorial will show you five tips to improve your work in Lightroom. While the ability to copy edits is one the most powerful tools out there to make your editing more efficient and your images more consistent, one way to extend those capabilities is to use the Match Total Exposures feature. This feature allows you to choose an image with an exposure you like or have edited to taste, then automatically adjust all the other selected images to have the same exposure based on their shutter speed, aperture, and ISO all considered together. I use this, for example, when I shoot events and need to smoothe out minor variations in my settings across time, then I copy my edits (minus exposure) across similar subsets of images. Check out the video above for the full rundown form Martin.
I recently wrote about shooting on film, and the dangers of that. One of the reasons was that no one sees my work right away. In this article, I will break down why shooting tethered has completely changed my workflow and improved my photography beyond imaginable.
Disclaimer: this isn’t a sponsored post, TetherTools is mentioned because this is the system I bought, use, and will continue to use. If you have something better, good for you! Share in the comments.
Join My Photoshoots
If you come to my shoot, you will find that the first thing I’m setting up is a tether table and the digital station. This happens on all shoots where I am working with people, and being a fashion photographer, this happens on every shoot. There is a dedicated setup that I use that is reliable, robust, and most importantly easy for everyone to get a hang of.
On top of my tether table, is a 15” Mac, two LaCie drives, charger, coffee, notes, and color gels. It gets messy, but that’s not the point.
This wasn’t always like that. How it used to be was me showing up with a 5D Mark II, shooting away, and checking the photos at the back of the screen. This was still a valid way of creating, doing it meant that I was able to show the best of the best photos. What happens with beginner crews is that if the “head guy” — the photographer — says the photo is good, everyone continues with the next look. Not only is this limiting exploration, but it is also limiting how much else is possible to create. There are fewer benefits than there are disadvantages to this non-tethered setup.
Let me walk you through all the ways shooting tethered not only made my life easier but also improved my photography.
The first is the most obvious and probably the one you expect. When I’m tethering in, I ask my team to be at the laptop looking at the photos. If they’re not, I’m unlikely to bring them along on the next shoot. As harsh as it sounds, shooting tethered costs me money, and I’d appreciate it if the team valued my input in making their life easier.
That aside, when the team is looking at the photos while I shoot, I have the confidence that the images are ok. Not only that, there is constant input and creativity on set. I appreciate when I am not the only person doing the work, not because of my own laziness, but because I don’t see everything. It is not a lack of clear vision, it is being open-minded to suggestions from anyone on set. I’ve even taken suggestions from assistants, in fact, those were much better than what I imagined. Without tethering in, I can’t take any input from my crew.
A good fashion image is a lot about fashion, a lot less about everything else. That’s why finding a good stylist has been paramount to making better work. They know what looks good, which results in your images looking good too. But a stylist can only do so much if they are not getting immediate feedback on how the clothes look in the picture.
Another contributor to the success is the model. The talent gives character, flair, and life to fashion. A pretty picture won’t cut it, it should have character, storyline, and a feeling. That’s why great images can be technically imperfect but still be considered works of art. A model can look over at the screen, see what is happening, and quickly adjust her posing to fit the mood better. In a way it’s like dancing in front of a mirror: immediate feedback, effectively delivered.
Hair and makeup transform the model, but there are always small tweaks that can be done to make the whole look better. Concentrating on the final result, a makeup artist and a hairstylist are able to see their work right away and make necessary changes. Sometimes, it’s something as simple as changing the color of the lipstick, other times it’s more complex such as adding or (worse) removing glitter.
Overall, shooting tethered allows me to include my team in the production process from the get-go. So far, no one has complained about making them collaborate on photos. Art directors love it too, but that’s a different topic.
Some may say that tethering is quite slow. And, yes it can be, but only if you’re shooting sports in burst mode on a Phase One with a 250MP back. I work with the 5Ds, which produces monstrous files, still, USB 3.0 is relatively fast in transferring them, even though 10 meters of cable.
The momentum comes in when I am far from the laptop, and I am simply shooting. I don’t check the images once I’ve set everything up. After all, I’m not a technician but a photographer. Taking images, without thinking too much about checking has been revolutionary to my flow. I create at the moment, and oh boy is it fun. sometimes I wonder how much more fun can it be?
Backups are essential. Whenever I shoot, I use two shoot drives that are backed up in real-time with Ease US backup. Unfortunately, Capture One doesn’t offer native backup solutions in the Pro version, only in Enterprise. If anyone at Capture One is reading this, please please please add backups feature to Sessions.
Still Not Convinced?
There are some naysayers that are against tethering. Some are worried that they will lose reputation because they show all files, I stopped worrying about it, we all have bad photos. If anything, “bad” photos create awareness about how good the keepers are. On-location shooters may be upset about powering the whole setup, luckily there are batteries, generators, and other solutions that have been very robust and reliable in my world. Lastly, there are people who just think it’s not as mobile, it’s restricting, and so on. To them, I say: buy an extension if your cable is too short, put your tether station on wheels, and be happy to give everything you have for the perfect image. Sure I’d be upset if my gear died, but if it died creating great work, it’s worth it.
The basic workflow for most photographers is taking a photo, pulling out the memory card, putting it in the computer, and importing photos into their processing application of choice. However, many professional studio photographers use tethering to more efficiently transfer their images to their computer, but it comes with a lot more benefits than just making the pipeline more efficient. This awesome video will show you some of the benefits and why you should consider implementing it in your work.
Coming to you from Mark Wallace with Adorama TV, this great video will show you some of the benefits of shooting tethered and how he goes about it. When you are working in the studio, tethering can be useful for not just you but your clients as well. Almost all cameras have a small LCD screen on the back that is useful for checking basic things like composition and the like, but they are simply too small to be practical for showing images to an entire creative team and clients, and they do not show any of the edits you will apply. Whatever program you are tethered to can normally apply a range of edits automatically upon receiving the image, allowing you to show clients a much closer approximation of what they expect to receive at the end of the shoot, plus you get all the benefits of a larger display, allowing you to do things like check critical focus. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Wallace.
When it comes to tools designed to help you edit, the main factor for me is time. Yes, I want tools to make things easier and more intuitive, but at the end of the day, those features must help save me time. The Loupedeck Live does all that and more.
I have been meaning to write a review of Loupedeck Live for a while now. The problem is that it’s basically the exact same as the amazing Loupedeck CT. The Live still has all the same customization features as the CT, but it loses the entire bottom half of the device. And as I mentioned in that past review, I wished there was a smaller version since I didn’t really use the bottom half of the Loupedeck CT. So, the Live is exactly what I was looking for.
The reason it took me so long to come up with a review is that all the good things I had to say about Live I had already said about the CT. All the bad things I said were no longer relevant, so everything just felt repetitive. Then, Loupedeck added a software feature that saved my workflow.
But first, some background. For a long time, I have been on the edge of completely converting to Capture One Pro. The main hesitation point for me, though (as silly as it may seem), was the “paste from previous” option in Lightroom. For those unfamiliar, this button/shortcut will basically copy the edit from the last image you were on and paste those settings to the image you currently have selected. As a wedding photographer, this one feature saves me thousands of unneeded keystrokes per wedding, which can quickly add up to more than an hour wasted per wedding. Unfortunately for me and my workflow, Lightroom performance has taken a drastic turn for the worse. So, I made the dive to Capture One anyway.
And wow, is Capture One so much more superior. Every single aspect of the program is faster, more customizable, and has more features. But I was still missing my button. Then, along came a Loupedeck Live Software update (that is also available for the CT). This software has been adding features and abilities since launch, and this update had given me what I was needing. Essentially, what you can now do is program a button-press or dial-turn to a set of macros. So, while I normally have a dial set to move from image to image, I can now have it set to copy the image settings, pause for a millisecond, and then move to the next image.
So, with my edits from the previous image auto loaded to the clipboard any time I change images, I can now simply hit the paste shortcut to apply the edits. So voila, I now have a workaround to get the “paste from previous” button inside of Capture One!
For those curious, I created a custom shortcut in Loupedeck to copy settings, pause, and then move right. I then created the exact same shortcut with a move left instead of right. I then set the dial to engage to the move right version when I turned the dial right and then vice versa for left. Lastly, I set the dial-press (you can press a dial like a button) to apply the edits. So now, I can scroll through images and edit as I wish. When I come to an image that is similar to the one before it, I simply press the dial to apply the previous images’ edits, and then, I’m ready to move on to the next, saving me time.
From here, there isn’t too much else to say about the Loupedeck Live. For me, it’s the perfect combination of size and portability mixed with excellent and time-saving tools. The physical dials still have a nice click as you rotate so you can have some physical feedback as to how much you are turning. The touchscreen is also still very responsive, with the option to swipe to access multiple pages of buttons.
The Live also still has the ability to be program-specific as well as to set up workspaces. What this means is that Live can automatically adjust what dials and touchscreen buttons do based on what program you are in. Not only this, but it can automatically adjust based on what area of a program you are in (so long as it’s a supported program). So, the Live can use a certain set of shortcuts in the Lightroom’s Library module and then completely change when you move to the Develop module. This means you can have flagging and rating buttons set up for culling and then have them change to things like cropping or local adjustment tools when you are editing.
One last feature that I’m excited about is that Live does have Bluetooth. The only problem is that we have no idea what it will be used for. At this time, it’s not used for anything and is simply there to support future updates. But what I am hoping for is a wireless ability so that I no longer need a cable connecting the device to my computer, though this would undoubtedly lead to the need for a battery pack since there is no built-in battery. But either way, whatever this Bluetooth option is used for, I’m sure it will be nice to have.
What I Like
Same great features as the Loupedeck CT
Much smaller than the Loupedeck CT
What I Don’t Like
I want to know what the Bluetooth will be used for
Being half the size of the $549 Loupedeck CT means you also get the Loupedeck Live for about half the price at $269. For me, this is more than worth the many hours the device has saved me, not to mention how much easier it is to quickly edit an image with dial-turns and button-presses rather than scrolling and searching with a mouse or trackpad.
It doesn’t matter if you shoot RAW or jpg you still need to process your images but there is more to consider for RAW. I want to share my workflow which I’ve refined over the years to something that works for me.
The question of workflow was prompted by comments in the ephotozine Critique Gallery. Having a workflow (your ‘method’) should suit your purpose ad be as efficient as you can make it, along with good practise. I’m limiting this blog to straightforward RAW image processing. Creating mono versions, images with particular effects or image from film scans have their own requirements. I’m specifically talking about Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software but the same principles apply whether you’re using something like Capture One or Lightroom.
The files are downloaded from the card to a folder on the computer, for example ‘Landscapes 2021’. Navigating to that folder in DPP brings up the files, there’s no import procedure. I go through all the files, deleting those that don’t come up to scratch such as those that are unsharp or someone has their eyes closed. Storage is cheap, but there’s no need to keep stuff you know you won’t ever want to use. Experience tells me what may or may not be useful.
Lens correction data is applied automatically for things like vignetting, chromatic aberration and distortion. Adjustments are made to the Black Point, followed if necessary (and they aren’t always) to the White Point and Mid Point and Shadows. Contrast and Saturation are also adjusted, again if necessary. Colour Balance is adjusted too. All those adjustments are available on the same tab and take less time to do than it takes to read this paragraph. I tend to leave the Noise Reduction at the default as I reckon Canon know the best parameters for each camera and ISO setting. If cropping is required or a horizon needs levelling, I do this now.
The Basic Adjustments tab
Those basic adjustments are often all that’s needed, and don’t take long, becoming second nature. Adjustments can be applied to a batch of images which saves a lot of time. I set the Picture Style to Neutral so I make the choices as to how colours appear, using the adjustments for selective colour channels for saturation and tone. So, for example, I may deepen a blue sky in a more controllable manner (than using an in-camera setting) as you might when using a polarising filter. Boosting red and yellow in autumn scenes is something to consider though I can’t say it’s something I’ve particularly wanted to do.
The Lens Correction tab
Once I’m happy with the changes I create 16 bit tif files. These are the best colour conversions, containing a lot of information. They’re also the best starting point for different versions including mono. It’s worth repeating that for good mono conversions start with the best colour image you can. Even if I want a faded colour or distorted colour (for example cross-processing effects) starting with a good original gives you the most flexibility with regards to adjustments.
I write captions for each image together with a list of keywords. In Lightroom I add these in the relevant fields which become embedded in the converted tif images. When using DPP I copy and paste the information from a text document (spell checking is welcome, especially with my typing!) into Adobe Bridge, where I can apply it to multiple files where appropriate. Captions are so important, and useful. There’s no room for the old excuse of not knowing where a photo was taken or who it is in the image. Crikey, even Windows can reveal a caption in an image file.
Once I’ve created tif files I use the Tools > Batch Rename in Bridge. You can of course set DPP (and Lightroom) to create renamed images. I prefer to leave it until I’ve fully assessed those tifs and decide on keepers. Coming back, say, a day later gives me time to look anew.
How you choose to rename your files is up to. There are numerous ideas around so find one that works works for you. Personally I’ve settled on the format Short Description Year Month File Number so I end up with something like BCLM 2019 May 01. For the hundreds of images I’ve taken at the Black Country Museum they’ll all have a unique name. I could, for example, replace the name of the month with a number so I can arrange them chronologically within a year. However, it’s easy to see at a glance just by reading the file name hat the month is. Many years ago at the start of my career we specified dates with the name of the month in just to be clear as the US and Japan have different ways of setting out dates compared to the UK. The method stuck.
BCLM 2019 May 01
When I create other versions, such as mono and toned images I add a letter suffix, so a mono version in the above example would be BCLM 2019 May 01b, a different conversion or sepia toned version would be BCLM 2019 May 01c, and so on. There are further hierarchical conventions I could use but one letter serves my purposes (life’s too short to go on about them here and anoraks aren’t allowed!). For images uploaded to ephotozine, my website and blog, or use in a calendar, I create separate jpgs, often with a border but also as a record of what I have uploaded, with further letters, Thus we’d have, for example, BCLM 2019 May 01epz so I wouldn’t overwrite a jpg used for, say, uploading to an online print site.
BCLM 2019 May 01a
My workflow may not be perfect for some but as it is I’m comfortable with it and well conversant with the software I use so I get what I want efficiently.
Photographer and YouTuber Mark Denny has created an on-location landscape workflow that allows him to repeatedly create the best images when shooting. In this 14-minute video, he breaks down his five easy-to-remember steps that you can replicate.
Denny explained that when he first started shooting landscapes, he would spend a lot of time researching techniques with the goal of improving his compositions. He believed that if he could learn everything there was to know about creating great compositions, it would be the magic key he was looking for to increase the quality of his images. He said that he became obsessed with learning everything he could about compositions, spending a large amount of time-consuming content from various sources.
But when it actually came time to go out and apply that knowledge in the field, he would freeze. He would forget everything he learned and couldn’t get out of his own way. He spent too much time taking in a lot of information and very little of that time applying it to real-world situations.
“Simply knowing is half the battle,” he says. “But being able to accurately and effectively apply these techniques in real-world scenarios… is what matters most.”
To help himself, and now you, Denny created five easy to remember steps that he references every time he goes out to shoot: The Reason, The Elements, The Distractions, The Light, and The Shapes.
The first step is determining the reason for going out on location. What are you trying to capture? What is the goal? Determining the reason for going out ahead of time is critical to building your composition.
The second step is to ask yourself, “what are the supporting elements?” In short, what are the graphical elements that drives viewers towards your reason for taking the photo to begin with.
The third step is to identify the distractions. Look for things that could compete for the viewers’ attention.
The fourth step is to look for contrasting light that can add interest to your image and once again add to the reason you are taking a photo to begin with. If there is a way to effectively implement light into your image, Denny encourages you to use it.
Finally, the last step is taking advantage of the shapes in nature, specifically triangles. Denny says triangles create symmetry and balance, so using natural occurrences of shapes to enhance your image can help make it better.
Denny says that using these five steps while you’re out in the field will make your images more focused and, ultimately, better. The best part is that these aren’t overly complicated rules that you will find yourself struggling to remember the next time you’re out shooting.
There are so many ways to approach editing a landscape image, and virtually every photographer has their own way of doing things. This video is a peek into my own workflow, as I edit an image for the first time while on a live-stream.
For the beginner, opening up an editing application for the first time is a daunting process. We all kind of start the same way, though, by getting to grips with some type of raw editing software like On1 Photo, Luminar, Exposure X5, etc. and then eventually stepping things up a notch with Photoshop. There’s a reason that there really is no equivalent to Adobe’s flagship creative application. As Adobe has added more and more features over the years, there are still a ton of legacy tools within it, allowing the user to approach the same problem in a multitude of ways — some more effective than others depending on the specific task. Because of this, it’s very hard to know where to start. But just like with learning new photography techniques, we see something we like, and we figure out how to reproduce it, one technique at a time.
I’ve picked up everything I’ve learned from many different sources. YouTube is a fantastic, free source of information. But if you’re looking for something more comprehensive, I’ve learned so much from Elia Locardi’s “Photographing The World” series.
This video shows my basic workflow. To start off, I stick with the tried and trusted Lightroom Classic to get the most out of my raw image before getting a bit more creative and selective in Photoshop. There’s no complex exposure blending, focus stacking, or compositing — just simple techniques that can drastically improve your final image. Because I streamed it live on Twitch, it’s a much more casual approach to an editing video compared to the usual YouTube fare. So, grab a cup of tea or a beer and relax, and hopefully, you can pick up some new techniques.
Would you have done anything differently? Let us know in the comments.
Various gadgets designed to improve the editing experience have emerged in the last couple of years, one of which is the TourBox, a chunky blob of knobs and buttons that sits next to your keyboard. How well does it perform and does the expense justify the promised gains in efficiency?
The TourBox is a relatively new addition to the array of software controllers currently available, having initially come to market in 2018. Previously, it only supported Lightroom, Photoshop, and PaintTool SAI, with the promise that more software would be added. It has since expanded significantly, and the peripheral can now be set up to work with Illustrator, Capture One, Clip Studio Paint, Comic Studio, Final Cut Pro, Premiere, After Effects, DaVinci, and Audition.
TourBox kindly sent me a unit to review, and I’ve been testing it over the last month to see how it performs, principally with Lightroom but also with a bit of Photoshop. As a means of speeding up my workflow, I’ve certainly been impressed, but does it merit its price of $169, and is there room for improvement?
The TourBox arrived in a rather smart box, and perhaps the first thing that I noticed upon unpacking the peripheral is its weight. I suspect that the manufacturers could have gone the route of rubber suckers to keep the device from sliding around your work surface, but instead, they opted to give it a solid feel, and I think that is the better option. At a shade over 13 oz (370 g), it remains reassuringly in place, which is a definite advantage for use, but perhaps isn’t so great if you want to take it with you on the road. The body has a slightly rubberized coating, which gives it a nice feel.
Given its weight and texture, the buttons and dials don’t quite match up in terms of refinement, having a slightly lightweight and plasticky feel. Each of the buttons and one of the three dials have a bit of wiggle play — from side to side, not in a way that makes it unresponsive — slightly undermining the impression of quality given by the unit’s weight and skin.
That said, the buttons each have a meaty click to them that is satisfying in both feel and sound. The dials are quite light to the touch and can be knocked unintentionally if you’re not careful, but they give close control when shifting sliders in Lightroom or brush sizes in Photoshop.
The TourBox has a single USB-C port — notably not micro USB, something that I appreciate — and ships with a heavyweight cable that’s of a decent length (5 ft, 1.5 m).
One of the best features of TourBox is its flexibility. Its 11 buttons, two dials (technically, one is a dial and one is a scroll wheel), and one knob might feel a bit random in their choice and layout, but the degree to which it can be customized is the core of this peripheral’s power. Any button can be customized to take on any keyboard shortcut, and the developers have dug into Lightroom and Photoshop to give it even greater control.
For example, you can set the knob or one of the two dials to change exposure, saturation, sharpness, noise reduction luminance — basically, with a few exceptions, if there’s a Lightroom slider, you can assign a dial to it.
This depth of flexibility means that setting up the TourBox to fit into your workflow is not a simple process. TourBox knows that everyone uses the likes of Photoshop and Lightroom slightly differently, and as a consequence, there’s a fair chunk of effort to be put in before you can get the most out of this gadget.
The TourBox software installation is simple, and while the configuration isn’t quite as straightforward as the documentation likes to suggest, it’s easy to navigate once you’ve familiarized yourself. In part, the complexity is because the software takes a moment to understand, but most of the challenge is a result of the seemingly infinite options for configuring the various knobs and buttons.
Thankfully — and rather intuitively — when you’re setting up your TourBox using the TourBox Console, you can simply press a button on the box to jump straight to assigning a function. Perhaps my biggest challenge was figuring out what I use most during my Lightroom editing process, and after a month in, I’m still making some changes.
To facilitate this process, TourBox allows you to set up individual profiles. To begin with, you might have one profile for each piece of software you use, and TourBox will automatically shift profiles accordingly. If you switch from Lightroom to Photoshop, your buttons and dials will switch also.
You can create as many profiles as you wish. Depending on whether I can tweak the TourBox to eliminate keyboard use entirely, I might set up a second profile for Lightroom so that I have one profile for culling and a second profile for retouching.
The TourBox Console can import and export your profiles, but I’d like to see the developers add the option to duplicate a profile, as this would allow me to tinker more easily with my setup by creating experimental profiles that are based on my existing ones.
Putting It Into Practice
A few weeks into using the TourBox, I was appreciating the difference. My right hand uses my mouse as usual, while my left hand sits on the TourBox, occasionally coming to the keyboard to hit a shortcut that I didn’t use too often and therefore hadn’t considered.
However, with a bit more use, it started to bug me that I’d run out of buttons. It then occurred to me that I could effectively make one of the buttons a shift key, thereby using a button combination to add more shortcuts to the device. This also works to double up the functionality of the dials and knob, a feature that is best captured by this animated gif lifted from the TourBox website:
It’s worth keeping in mind that with the current firmware, only certain buttons can be paired — i.e., you can’t press the left and right D-pad buttons together, and you can’t use the right D-pad button to shift the functionality of the dial, for example. This seems like a reasonable limitation. Furthermore, your shift key should remain just that: a shift key that has not been allocated a specific function. Pairing two function buttons together and trying to press them simultaneously will cause confusion.
TourBox also gives you the option to set some buttons to double-click. So far, I can’t escape the single click functionality of a button when double-clicking, so the double-click feature is a bit redundant at present. TourBox says that it is working to improve this.
Another limitation I’ve found is that I can’t set one of the dials to change the flow or density of an adjustment brush in Lightroom. The TourBox developers have coded extra functionality into the unit to give you more control over Lightroom beyond just the keyboard shortcuts, but there’s still some work to be done.
Does It Make You Faster?
In short, yes. I shot an event at the weekend and spent an afternoon culling around a thousand images down to 140, before editing and exporting. During that session, I think pretty much the only time I touched my keyboard was to tweak a new button/dial combination in the TourBox Console.
I found myself doing more work on the images — for example, making local adjustments — than I would do otherwise for such an event simply because the TourBox makes the process easier and faster.
What I Liked
Level of customization
Extra speed in my workflow
USB-C port and ships with a heavy-duty cable
Can create multiple profiles for each application that are geared specifically for type of work that you’re doing
What I Didn’t Like
Buttons and dials don’t feel quite as refined as the rest of the unit
Some of the instructions and tips need proofreading
Software needs a bit of tweaking to make it user friendly
Double-click functionality needs some work
Can’t change the flow of adjustment brushes in Lightroom
I had to figure out the two-button functionality myself
My expectations for the TourBox were mixed, and before it arrived, I wondered whether this would be another useless peripheral that seemed like a nice idea but is actually not that useful in practice.
However, while I won’t travel with it, the TourBox is now a part of my workflow, and I expect to be able to continue tweaking my setup so that I never have to touch the keyboard again. The option to allocate certain buttons (or buttons) as a shift key means that you have far more than the 14 buttons/dials/knobs available, and future firmware should iron out kinks such as the smoothness of the console software and the double-click functionality.
The TourBox would benefit from some refinements that can easily be achieved through future firmware updates, but as a means of adding to the efficiency of your workflow and making image editing feel less of a chore, this software controller seems an excellent choice. Get yours here.
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