Be sure to visit Trey’s Texture Tutorial to see how I make these kinds of photos. They are very fun, and anyone can do it!
Daily Photo – The Tapestries of China
This whole area around Guilin has become one of my favorite areas to visit and explore in China. The shapes around here are epic and timeless, and they put me in quite a creative and contemplative mood!
This was a little above me when I took the photo, so I used the Lightroom automatic lens correction to true up all the vertical lines. I don’t always do that, but if it is very close to vertical, I want to make it is as good as possible
Daily Photo – Simple Colors in the Old Part of Venice
I can’t totally take credit for this shot, as it was found on one of my random wanderings with Rene. He and I would rarely have any kind of a plan other than just meandering. There was always food in the mix. That’s a sure thing with him. It’s truly unbelievable how much food he eats… he’s like a Tardis! Anyway, here’s a little thing that he saw on the way so I grabbed my own photo!
Here’s the FULL episode, as what follows below is just the bit where I was on. Here’s the full description of the whole episode:
Hosts: Leo Laporte, Megan Morrone, Mike Elgan, Jason Howell, Fr. Robert Ballecer, and Bryan Burnett.
Mike Elgan takes us through the highlights of Google I/O, Photographer Trey Ratcliff talks about The Arcanum and photography with Voice Over Actor Jim Cutler, plus inside the Kickstarter project called Cubit.
A lot of people ask what I use to record my videos on my computer — I really recommend Screenflow Pro. It’s just a great program and very very easy to us
Daily Photo – 1,000 Stories in Venice
I walked around a lot of these nights with my friend Rene. It was nice to wander around and see so many other people out and about. I think there were mostly locals around, sitting on steps or bridges, drinking and eating. I was amazed how many people I saw walking around with glasses of wine — very impressive, Italy, very impressive…
Be sure to watch the PhotoWalks page to keep track of upcoming events or simply see some of the past events!
Daily Photo – Little Boxes in a temple in Hong Kong
Does anyone know the purpose of these boxes? I found them in a little Buddhist temple along a hillside somewhere in the middle of Hong Kong when I was stumbling about. I tried to guess what they meant… but I'd like to hear what you think!
The May Preset Pack is out! (half-price today only)
This has been a very fun experiment and gets bigger every month! See the Lightroom Presets page for more. This month features a fresh 10 presets, just as new and idea-provoking as the previous months. The special deal we do to reward the hardest core of the fans of these is to do half-off just on the first day of the month. So, for 24 hours, it’s only $2.50 instead of $5.
And here’s a little video more about them!
Daily Photo – The Breaking Sea Ice on the way to Antarctica
Every pack comes with at least one Black & White preset, and this is a pretty good example of one. I took this photo out of the window of the CL-130 as I was still about 2 hours (after 8 hours already in the air) from Antarctica. I started to get excited as I looked down to see the sea ice melting apart in the middle of summer. I particularly liked all the layers of clouds floating on top…
Since I originally published this article, there is news! Even though it’s a TREMENDOUS conflict of interest, haha, but I developed my own HDR Software with MacPhun called Aurora HDR Pro. It’s absolutely amazing and completely removes the need for Lightroom. But I’ll let you choose for yourself! 🙂
Lightroom 6 Unreview
This sensational blog post is brought to you by Trey’s Lightroom Presets, which are mega awesome and were made by Trey, the guy writing this in the third person that thinks these presets will bring you happiness and enlightenment on your deathbed.
I’m a huge fan of Lightroom, but this HDR addition is mega lame. Mega Lame Dot Com.
I’ll also talk about some of the other big additions, which everyone seems to rave about without hesitation. I’m actually fascinated by the internet and how Adobe can make the slightest little change or improvement that should have been there several years ago, and everyone goes nuts like Moses has found a third tablet with five new commandments. I think actually there may be a hidden Adobe commandment that says, “Thou shalt cripple Lightroom so more plebeians must buyeth Photoshop.”
But first, since everyone probably wants to know about the new HDR functionality, we’ll get started with that. I’ve been doing HDR stuff for about 8 years and used just about every product. Every day I put up a new image here on the blog… so that’s 365 images a year, most of which have some element of HDR in them. It all started a long time ago with the HDR Tutorial, which I continue to update.
About 3 or 4 years ago I switched from Aperture to Lightroom and I never looked back. I really do love Adobe Lightroom and even made an Organize Your Photos! video tutorial here to show how I use it.
Here’s five of my favorite HDR images so you can see the kind of work I like to do. My work is not for everyone, and if you don’t like it, what you don’t realize is that I’ve already ignored you even before you’ve thought about it.
New HDR in Lightroom
In short, here are the three things I’ve found (I expand on each one below):
The results are a bit boring (often, quite boring)
There are absolutely no options for you to adjust the intensity of the HDR image. Even more surprising is the resulting new image has many siders pre-moved (including the highlight slider completely to the left), meaning there is little or no more recovery there.
Try This Yourself and try not to type #WTFAdobeHDR
It appears that you could save time by simply taking the middle exposure, dropping the highlights, and amping up the shadows. And by save time, I mean up to several minutes. I have a fast computer and using the HDR Merge on Lightroom is is pretty slow. If you just move THREE sliders on the middle exposure, you appear to get the exact same result in 2 seconds.
Tell me if I’m crazy; tell me if I’m wrong. I mean, I’m not, and I won’t listen to you anyway, but feel free.
Here’s the new image that is created after merging in Lightroom HDR. You’ll see those three sliders on the right, each of which are automatically moved for you during the process. This took about 30 seconds on a Really Fast Computer.
Here’s one I made from the middle exposure in 2 seconds by simply moving those three sliders myself.
I’ve been scratching my head trying to figure out why they made something so underwhelming. Personally, I don’t want to have to use another tool in the process… I know the people at Adobe are smart, but I’m actually confused how such a big team can take so long to make something so uninteresting. The team at Nik made a great HDR product in a small portion of the time. The team at Photomatix made something better than Adobe many years ago (and way way faster).
It’s actually surprising to me that a big company is so far behind these small companies. Why didn’t they just buy Photomatix and get their uber-fast and much-more-interesting algorithms? I don’t own any of Photomatix, btw… but just wondering about the decision processes of Adobe. They do a lot of strange stuff, but I figure this is because many decisions are made by committee, and this is why we never see a statue of a committee.
Lackluster HDR Results
When processing the photo, there is literally ONE option to adjust the look of your photo, which is “Auto-Tone.” That is basically ZERO options. And I don’t even know why it is an option, because if it is not selected, your photo does not get HDR’ed! It’s like having a Gaussian Blur dialog with a checkbox inside that says “Gaussian Blur.”
I’ve tried about 10 different images in there. I toggle on and of the “Auto-Tone” image and I haven’t been impressed once. Again, I can get the exact same result by just moving those three sliders on the middle image.
The Before Shot
The HDR Results from LR
One of 20 different results from Photomatix
Like, why not have Presets with lots of options? Pretty much all modern filter programs out there have presets now with little thumbnails. Maybe you’ve seen the awesome MacPhun Intensify stuff for example? Honestly, it’s not that hard to do, and Adobe could have made some Very Interesting HDR Presets that could give you a lot of different looks.
For example, here’s a screenshot of Photomatix featuring some of the Vaingloriously Named Trey Ratcliff’s Photomatix Presets. These are recommended by 2 out of 3 doctors.
How presets look in Photomatix
Slow HDR Boat to China
I’m not gonna write much about this other than to say that in my 10 tests, it was always quite slow. It averages 30-80% slower than Photomatix. Maybe I’m just used to speedy Photomatix or other fast tools like MacPhun.
I have a fast Macbook Pro and I have used Lightroom to HDR merge many times. On average, for 3 RAW photos (each one 36 megapixels), it took 17 seconds to get into the dialog and then an additional 10 seconds after clicking merge. For 5 RAW images, it took 44 seconds to get into the dialog and an additional whopping 104 seconds after clicking merge.
Compare that with Photomatix (see my Photomatix Review) with the exact same photos. For 3 photos, it took 10 seconds to get into the dialog and then 4 seconds to process. For 5 photos, it took 16 seconds to get into the dialog and 5 seconds to process. That’s an amazing savings of over two minutes. TWO MINUTES DOT COM. (sorry I’ve been doing robot-voice lately).
I think one reason it is slow is because it’s converting everything to DNG first. So maybe if you’re already DNG it will be faster… personally I don’t covert to DNG. This is another topic… people ask my why I don’t convert. My short answers are: 1) It takes quite a bit longer during import. 2) In practice.I don’t really see the size savings as being material. 3) I’m not worried about my RAW photos going obsolete, and just in case they do, I can convert to DNG in 5 years or whatever when my computer is 50x faster.
Here’s another surprise (the hits keep on comin’!). After the photo has been HDR processed, you’ll notice that the sliders have been pre-slid for your pleasure.
Maybe some of you know about the Photoshop “Merge to HDR” functionality. Now, I’m not really a fan of that either. However, there is one good feature that I was SURE Lightroom would include. In Photoshop, when you drag in a bunch of images for HDR, you still get a lot more control over the shadows/highlights and this sort of thing. Yes, you can add some gradients and adjustment brushes in LR, but it’s not on the surface. Even when I do that, I’m not seeing any more recovery.
And when you compare the HDR functionality in Photoshop to Lightroom, again, there is no comparison. At least the Photoshop one gives you some options to tweak out the intensity or variety of the effect. The only options the LR version gives you is around the ghosting.
Good stuff about the New Lightroom
It seems generally faster. Their marketing speak is “up to 10 times faster” which could mean literally anything (like the Help dialog loads 10 times faster whereas the curves tool is 1.2 times faster). But I do notice one of my biggest pet peeves is way faster — the crop tool. Before, when I would make a lot of changes to a photo, it was extremely sluggish during the crop.
Also there is a panorama merge, so that is handy for quick panos or people that want to only live life in LR. I still use Autopano because it is more powerful and lets me do HDR panoramas.
There are other features that I don’t use like facial recognition and advanced video slideshows. There are also some updates to mobile, but I don’t use those much, if at all.
What I wish they had added
Even though I love Lightroom, I find Adobe to be a frustrating company. It’s so obviously that they purposefully cripple Lightroom so people will keep using Photoshop.
A really good example is the content-aware healing brush. It’s Really Amazing in PS, and the spot-removal tool in LR is just not good enough. It’s literally Very Easy to add into LR, but they don’t do it.
Another good example is layers. Layers would not be that difficult to add (especially with their team of engineers that are using their time instead by working on such killer features as “Advanced Video Slideshows”).
I’d also like to see better catalog control and organization. I have it figured out, but it’s inscrutable to many people. I can’t tell you how many people, especially beginners, are super-confused about how to manage your LR catalog, especially if you travel and you have too many photos for one computer or drive.
Obviously the thing THEY were most excited about was the HDR functionality. All their marketing material and blog posts begin with this amazing announcement. But it’s by far one of the most underwhelming features. W
See this church below? Here’s another video that I shot in this area a few years ago when I was using the Sony NEX system… of course, now I’ve moved to the Sony A7 system! You can read more about these and more on the Reviews page here on the site.
Daily Photo – Exploring New Zealand on the way to Antarctica
Stu and I had a really fun road trip on the way to Christchurch, where we took a flight down to Antarctica. Along the way, we had a fun night here in Tekapo. There's actually an AMAZING sushi restaurant right by here… we stayed there a LONG time and ate a lot of sushi and had a lot of sake, then stumbled over to take this photo during an amazing sunset!
The monthly tradition continues with my Lightroom Presets! I hope you have enjoyed the previous month packs, and here comes a funky-fresh one!
Daily Photo – Amazing Cologne
I loved everything about Cologne… except for my train ride back to Dusseldorf.
My whole camera bag was stolen! Can you believe it? I was distracted and before I knew it, my whole camera bag was swiped in a grab n' run! What a bummer! I still was holding my tripod and A7r, so I didn't lose those, luckily. But I did lost an A7ii, two Leica lenses, and a Sony lens. Ouch! Oh well, it's just stuff… But kind of inconvenient now, you know? Ah well…
I filed out a police report and everything. We're checking on insurance now to see what was covered… fingers crossed but I have low expectations!
They are only half price for 24 hours! Here’s the Lightroom Presets page that will tell you more about them… and here’s a little video!
Daily Photo – And the Lights Spiral Down
This is one of my favorite photos from Dubai, I must say! I keep coming back to it over and over again, and it gives me great pleasure!
I would love to live in a home surrounded by these. Or at least have one or two rooms absolutely full of them. I've only seen a few of these stores around the world, and they have such a plethora of them in these locations that I picture getting ALL of them just for one room. That would either be insane or awesome, but probably awesome.
For 24 hours on the first day of each month, I release a new Lightroom Pack at half price ($2.50). It went great for Jan and Feb so let’s keep the party going! See more on the Lightroom Presets page!
Today’s photo below was made with one of the presets. Each pack always includes a Black & White preset, and this is one of them.
Daily Photo – Super Hef Comes to the Rescue!
We were camping out in a valley near a glacier on the main continent of Antarctica. We were only supposed to be there for three nights, but bad weather came in. It was not quite a blizzard, but too intense nonetheless. That delayed us for another night. We started to get a bit worried about rations and everything, but everything turned out okay because Hef came to grab us in his chopper the next day. Here's a photo I got as he was landing, with snow whirling about…