Mac Pro Video

 Art, Education, Music  Comments Off on Mac Pro Video
Sep 152014
 

I own a couple of Macs, but the newest one is a Mac Mini from 2006 or so. So why did I sign up for Mac Pro Video? Well, it wasn’t for Mac-anything. I found a good deal on their site– $15/month for as long as I want. And since I also finally bit the bullet and signed up for Creative Cloud, MPV looked like the best compromise for me.

I’m really into music production, but I’m also really into visual arts, web design, and programming, even. MPV has some absolutely awesome video series on music production, covering not only theory, but also DAWs, and some of the harder-to-get-used to plugins. And while there are a lot of great dudes on YouTube with great info, MPV has some great tutorials. I especially loved their series on Ableton’s Push.

And now that I’m getting in to Creative Cloud, the tutorials should come in handy, ├é┬árather than spending a couple of hours trying to find good YouTube videos. It should be a nice complement to Pencil Kings. (The Photoshop tuts there were great, as are a few of the drawing tuts I’ve been working on.)

Learning Lightroom 5 with George

 Photography, Technology  Comments Off on Learning Lightroom 5 with George
Jul 182013
 

I’m getting the hang of Lightroom 5 now thanks to George Jardine’s excellent new video series on mastering Lightroom. It’s really worth checking out if you want to get the most out of your photos, or if you’re like me, and stare at a so-so photo for 10 minutes, trying to figure out how to tease out the little bits that will make it better.

Sometimes a photo just isn’t salvageable, and that’s a shame. But George’s videos bring more photos into range of “fixable” for me.

One of the tools he really focuses on is the tone curve, more so than the other exposure controls in Lightroom 5. The nice thing about the Tone Curve is that it will “unbunch” bunched-up tones, bringing out the contrast. It does so without smushing up other tones as much as the sliders do. At least that’s my experience so far. I need more practice with the tone curve to make it work really well, though.

I picked up his Library videos a while back, and those were really useful, too. I have all of my photos cataloged and stored in folders where I can find everything fairly quickly, all on a small portable USB-3 hard drive I move from computer to computer. That way I don’t have to worry about messing up my catalog file. I just back that up to a removable HDD on a regular basis.

I recommend all of his Lightroom videos, they’re worth the money and very informative.

The money you’ll save on never buying presets again will more than cover the cost. Really, why would anyone use presets? No two photos are alike, so why would you treat all of your photos as if they’re all the same? I don’t understand the thinking.

My main problem now is plowing through the 10,000+ photos in my library backlog. I love to shoot photos, but edit them? Not so much. Picking just a few is always so agonizing. I love them all, even the really bad ones.

Flick(r) on the Forehead

 Photography, Technology  Comments Off on Flick(r) on the Forehead
Nov 152012
 

Getting Lightroom and Flickr to play nice with each other has been a bit tricky for me, but I think I’ve managed to find all of the tools I need.

Setting up the Flickr Publish Service

For starters, I had to set up the Flickr publishing service in Lightroom. I keep hearing that there’s a plugin that’s even better at Flickr, but I managed to get the native Lightroom plugin to work pretty well, so I’m not going to mess with it yet. You can find a lot of videos about how to set up the Flickr publishing service by searching YouTube. I just figured it out from the menu. It’s not too hard if you’ve set up other programs to work with Flickr before.

Before you Sync your Flickr account with Lightroom, be careful about how you want to handle your metadata. If you’ve gone to the trouble to write up a bunch of comments and titles for your photos, make sure you set up the Flickr publish service for Flickr so that it doesn’t overwrite them with the photo metadata in Lightroom. (Unless that’s what you want.)

LR/Mogrify 2

I came across this plugin while looking for more information on setting up Flickr and Lightroom, and there’s a ton of people who love it. I headed to Photographer’s Toolbox, donated some money, and got the plugin.

MAKE SURE you download LR/Mogrify 2. If you get a bunch of errors in Lightroom, then you may have downloaded version 1 accidentally.

I had to install ImageMagick first. There’s a link on the LR/Mogrify page to ImageMagick, and ImageMagick is free.

LR/Mogrify 2 uses ImageMagick’s mogrify function to add some post-processing magic to your photos when you publish them.

I use it for 2 things:

I want to put a thin black border on the edge of all of my photos, so they look better in my blog. LR/Mogrify does borders really well. You can add as many as you want, and they’re non-destructive. They don’t cover any of the image. Instead, they add to the “canvas” size and wrap the border around the edge. I set my borders to 0.3% of the image size, equal on all sides, but you can do all kinds of fancy stuff with it.

I want to put a watermark on my photos that looks a little better than the built-in Adobe watermark. I found a post here that shows a really easy way to set up a drop-shadow watermark that will work on both light and dark photos.

To set up the watermark, you need to set up two instances of Mogrify Text Annotations. Mogrify doesn’t work exactly like the post shows anymore. You need to add a second line in the entry for text annotations. In the first entry, enter your watermark, pick a light color, and set the opacity to something you like. In the second entry, enter the same watermark, pick a dark color, and set the opacity. With the second entry, set the offset to 2px for each. This will create the drop shadow.

To test my LR/Mogrify setup and other Flickr Publish Service settings, I picked four photos that were verticals, horizontals, light, and dark, and set up the Publish Service for the Hard Drive exactly like I did for Flickr, to see how it would turn out.

It took some tweaking, but I got a look I like.

I still hadn’t published anything to Flickr at this point. Now I had to sync up my library with my Flickr sets.

Syncing Your Flickr Photo Collections With Lightroom Using ReSync

The next thing that needs to be done, if you’ve already got a lot of photos on Flickr, is to get your collections on Flickr in sync with your library in Lightroom. Doing it manually would be an insane amount of work if you’ve published a lot of photos.

That’s where Flickr ReSync comes in.

Download the latest version. 0.9.4 works just fine with LR 4.2, unless there’s a newer version up there. Follow the installation instructions. It installs like any plugin. Unzip and copy to Lightroom’s plugins folder.

Once I had it installed, I wasn’t sure how to get it to work. I couldn’t find a big shiny “Press me!” button. After going through the readme file in the zip file of version 0.6, I figured it out. Here’s how to use the plugin:

First, from Lightroom, after you’ve activated the plugin, restart Lightroom. (Just in case.)

Now, import all of the photos from your hard drive that are also in your Flickr account into your library. It might take a while, so go get some coffee.

While Lightroom is grinding through that, I’ll tell you how ReSync works– it matches the date and time you shot the photo with the date and time of your photos on Flickr. As long as you haven’t trashed your metadata, you should be fine.

Now that you have a library full of photos, you need to sync them up with your Flickr account. ReSync will create a bunch of Lightroom smart collections that will correspond to your various photosets in Flickr, and link them up with the photos you already have posted in Flickr.

To start syncing, go to the Library menu in Lightoom, drop down to Plug-In Extras, then select Automatic ReSync from the Flickr Resync submenu.

Go get some more coffee. This is going to take a while.

You may wind up with a stack of photos that the program can’t figure out. It’s pretty good about presenting you with a set of choices. Pick the photo you want to sync up with the photo on Flickr.

Now you should have a bunch of smart collections in your Flickr Publish Service area.

Fixing The Flickr Publish Set Order Bug in Lightroom 4.2

There’s one other thing that tripped me up: the sort order in the Lightroom library may not be the same as the sort order in your Flickr sets. I noticed that my sets were getting tossed in all directions, and Lightroom was the culprit. My photo sets were getting put in reverse order, from last to first. Annoying.

Here’s how I fixed it.

Go to library mode.

Now look at the bottom of main window in grid view. You should see a little drop down that says Sort: I picked Capture Time, because that’s how I want my sets to be sorted.

Then I set the order to a->z.

This alone won’t fix it. After that, go down to the filmstrip at the bottom of the screen, click on the thumbnail image of one of the photos, and drag it over to the side. Release it. Now drag it back to where it was.

The Sort: field should now say User Order.

Add a dummy tag or fiddle with all of the photos in develop mode, or just put them all on the map. Do something that makes Lightroom want to republish everything.

Republish the whole set. It should come out in the order you want now. This is a bug that Adobe has yet to fix for whatever reason.

Another good way around this is to use Jeffrey Friedl’s Flickr Publish plugin. Now that I have Lightroom obeying me, though, I don’t want to change anything. Part of me is afraid that changing my publishing plugin will cause me to lose all of my sets, and I cannot have that happening.

At first, finding all of this information required a lot of work, but once I got everything set up, I was kicking myself for not doing this sooner. It’s slightly complex, but the tools that are out there make it really easy to do.

I’ll put all of the important links here:
LR/Mogrify 2
ImageMagick (Needed if you’re installing on Windows)
Post on drop shadow watermarks in LR/Mogrify
Another post on how to do watermarks in LR/Mogrify, but nothing on drop shadows.
Flickr Resync
Jeffrey Friedl’s Flickr Plugin

Lighting up Lightroom

 Photography, Technology  Comments Off on Lighting up Lightroom
Nov 122012
 

I bought Adobe Lightroom 3.0 a year ago, before my trip to Japan last fall, along with the Photoshop CS5 upgrade. At the time, I figured that when I got to Japan, I would shoot a bunch of photos, and have the time to edit and sort them out. And somewhere in there, I’d have time to figure out how Lightroom worked, too.

How naive.

In reality, when I wasn’t wandering around in my spare time, I was studying until I passed out during the week. There was no time to learn something like Lightroom, which looked alien to me, who has used various iterations of Photoshop since version 3.0. (Not CS 3.0, 3.0.)

When I got back from Boston this year, I decided that my photos are not going to organize themselves, so I fired up Lightroom. “Let’s get this over with,” I thought with the same excitement one feels when going for a root canal.

And then I found out that Lightroom had been upgraded to version 4.0 (now 4.2, going on 4.3), and all of the cool kids were raving about it. Well, truthfully, they were raving about 3.0, too, but now it seemed like Lightroom did some cooler stuff, and generally processed photos better.

So I upgraded.

Learning to Love Lightroom

At first, I started messing with things to see what did what, and watched a few Adobe TV videos to get the feel for it, but while the library was pretty easy to figure out for someone like me who is familiar with databases, I had no idea what was going on in the develop module.

While I was desperately searching for some kind of help, I just happened to come across a link to George Jardine’s videos about Lightroom. Really, if I hadn’t been reading a totally unrelated thread on the Adobe message boards, I’m not sure I would have found these videos, and that would have been a shame.

George’s develop video series is about 6 hours long, and it contains 18 videos. I spent a weekend marathoning it, and by the time I was done, I finally understood how Lightroom’s develop module works, and I managed to figure out a way to process photos in a way that gives me results I like.

If you’re someone who likes to learn via YouTube, and are struggling with getting Lightroom to sing, I highly recommend George Jardine’s videos. They’re awesome. Just give up a day or two and watch them, then play with Lightroom to see what he’s getting at.

I have a bad habit of buying 4-inch thick $50 computer books, and later using them as doorstops. I have discovered that I just learn faster by watching videos of someone showing me how to do it.

One other thing: it took me until the series was completely over to really get everything sorted out in my head. I would recommend waiting until the last video before messing with publishing anything online, because you’ll wind up republishing it again.

And again.

If you’re like me, and have a massive pile of unprocessed photos, I highly recommend Lightroom. Once you get the process down, it’s an order of magnitude or two faster than Photoshop to power through with lots of quick, non-destructive edits. Now I don’t have to worry about saving 10 different versions of a 50MB file just to make sure I don’t screw things up. I can just dump all of my photos in one place, and let Lightroom do its thing.

More importantly, from within Lightroom I can publish my photos to my Flickr account, to my Picasa account, or send them to Costco to be printed up however I want. I love the plugins.

Here are a few links to some useful Lightroom sites:
http://thelightroomlab.com
http://www.lightroomforums.net/
http://tv.adobe.com/product/lightroom/episode/highest-rated/playlist/
http://www.lightroomqueen.com
http://www.mulita.com/

Calibrate that Nasty Monitor!

Before you start editing a bunch of photos, I would suggest that you do two things:

1. Calibrate your monitor. If you don’t know what that means, head to http://www.digitaldog.net and learn all about it.

I use a Spyder 3 Pro, and it does a pretty good job. You don’t have to get a Spyder, but get something to help you calibrate.

2. If you can’t find lens profiles for your camera/lens combo, you might want to create some of your own. Go to the Adobe web site and search for Adobe Lens Profile Downloader and Adobe Lens Profile Creator. With the downloader, you can search for profiles other people have uploaded, and with the creator, you can just make your own for those weird lenses you got off of eBay.

Another thing to consider, if you’re finicky about color, is the XRite ColorChecker Passport. It’s pretty handy for getting those white balances nailed, when the light is uniform. (When you’re dealing with mixed light, well, good luck with that.)

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