Lightroom 6 Dehaze Slider Now Available!

I stumbled across this rather funky plugin today: Dehaze Slider for LR6

It’s a fully functional dehaze slider for LR6, and it does exactly what it says on the tin.

Simply extract the LRHaze.lrplugin folder to your Lightroom program directory, go File>Plugin Manager, select Add, browse to the plugin folder, select it, and, well that’s it!

Directions for use are on the author’s page- Enjoy! And don’t forget to leave him a thank you!

dehaze slider

Lightroom 6 Users: Get Access to The Lightroom CC Dehaze Functionality

In my last post I said it would be possible for standalone Lightroom 6 users to gain access to the new dehaze Lightroom CC feature if the Adobe engineers weren’t very clever about things. They did not disappoint, and it IS possible to gain access to the dehaze feature if you are a mere mortal LR6 user!

Now there are several ways to get access to this feature. One I’m not going to going to go into because it is definitely illegal. The second and third ways are probably illegal so I’m not going to go into them either, although amusingly it’s because of poor coding on Adobe’s part that makes them possible. And just for the record, no I’m not pirating the software and I do have a valid LR6 licence. In fact I’ve bought every LR upgrade from LR3 onwards.

Anyway, here is a more legitimate way of accessing the dehaze feature: Quite simply it’s in the form of presets. Yup, the dehaze presets work, even though you don’t have a dehaze slider. Well that’s just silly isn’t it? But convenient nonetheless.

I’ve created 21 presets with the dehaze value from -100 to +100 and the can be downloaded from here: Dehaze Presets.zip and here’s how to install them:

1. Download and unzip the dehaze.zip file and select and copy the extracted Dehaze folder.

2. Open Lightroom

3. If on a Mac, in the top menu bar choose Lightroom>Preferences, if on a PC choose Edit>Preferences.

4. There will be a new window that appears.  Select the Presets tab.

5. Click on the button labeled “Show Lightroom Presets Folder.”

6. In this new window open the ‘Lightroom’ folder, and then open the ‘Develop Presets’ folder. Copy and Paste the Dehaze folder into this location.

7. Restart Lightroom, the presets can be found in the Presets section on the left in the Develop module. When you want to apply a preset, just click it and watch the dehaze magic happen!

LRCC dehaze

Adobe Leaves Lightroom 6 Standing Still with Lightroom CC

Well it had to happen at some point, but I doubt many would have guessed it would have happened so soon after the release of the latest version of Lightroom.

Looking at this new feature soon to be added to LR CC, it appears that LR CC and and LR6 are going their separate ways, very much in the same way that Photoshop and Photoshop CC did a few years ago. LR CC will be getting new bells and whistles whilst LR6 is left standing still (note: both will be getting the same bug fixes and camera updates).

It is very likely that this can mean only one thing: no more perpetual licensing and no chance of LR7 emerging. I hasten to add that this is purely speculation on my part, BUT I personally can’t see LR7 ever coming into existence. The perpetual version of PS died out less than a year from PS CC being introduced, mainly because of the difficulty of maintaining two versions of PS.  I wouldn’t be surprised if LR went the same way.

However, it has to be said that LR is a little bit different to PS: currently LR6 and LR CC are the same software, but it recognises if the user is a CC member or a perpetual licence user. So in theory a method could be employed to deactivate new LR CC features to prevent LR6 users getting to them.

If this is the case and the Adobe engineers don’t do a very thorough job (which is quite possible, see my reviews further down the page because it appears that they can’t spot the obvious) then LR6 users can very easily gain access to these features, so all might not be lost afterall.

What is going to be interesting is what sort of features will be introduced and, more importantly, how frequently, and will they be worth it? If PS CC is anything to go by, then probably not on both of the latter.

Two things are certain however: introduction of a new feature so close to LR’s release date is a little galling for LR6 users and is likely to stir stir things up.

Secondly,  it seems Adobe is intent on forcing people to the subscription model.

Perfect Browse 9 Raw Viewer Review

After spotting Perfect Browse 9 Raw Viewer being given away free on Fstoppers, I thought I’d give it a whirl.

I’m not sure why it’s free….it usually costs $59, but I’m not complaining. Is it worth $59 if you paid for it? Well, initially, it seems a lot of money for what it is when you consider for twice the price you can get Lightroom to do exactly the same thing in terms of cataloguing, and a heck of a lot more besides.

As the name suggests it’s primarily an image viewer, but it can do a fair amount more than that. Like the LR library module,  it can rate the images with stars, colour flags and pick or reject (or leave unflagged). You can add keywords, description and other metadata, rotate the image and filter your ratings. Heck, it even looks a little like the LR Library module. It even uses the same keys to rate the images as LR- with the exception of the zero key. That sets the image to purple rather than zeroing the star rating. If you want to zero the star rating you need to need to press the key to the left of the ‘1’ key on the top of the keyboard. I say left of the ‘1’ key simply because it varies from keyboard to keyboard, country to country.

PB9-1

Seems a bit much really doesn’t it, seeing you can do that in LR? Well, here’s the key thing. It’s fast. Damn fast……. It’s possible to fly through hundreds, if not thousands, of images in the blink of an eye. rating them, sorting them.  In LR, this would take forever, even just jumping from one image to the next. Waiting for an image to render in LR sometimes seems to take an age of man. In PB, as soon as you skip to another image it’s there, a tack sharp as soon as you press the arrow key.

PB9-4

There is a price to pay for this speed: it shows you the JPEG preview (it’s still large) and not the raw file. If you zoom in, then you get shown the raw file. That takes a bit more time. So it’s not ideal for making judgement on exposure or white balance, or even total sharpness (you get an overall feeling of sharpness, but if you want to establish if that key part of the image is really sharp, then it’s going to take a bit longer). But if you want to quickly cull the bloopers and images you wouldn’t even want to consider, and pick the ones that might need a bit of work over the ones that don’t need as much tweaking, then this is the tool for you. The amount of time saved in a single sitting could pay for this tool alone. It’s a God-send for wedding or event photographers.

And then it gets better. After sorting the images, you can get them into LR extremely quickly.

Simply select the images you want (you don’t even have to filter them if you don’t want to), right click and select “Send to Adobe Lightroom”.

PB9-2

The familiar LR dialogue box opens up, and you can import your images as you normally would.

PB9-3

Once in the catalogue, every setting and rating you applied in PB is in LR too: you can quickly filter your images and work on the keepers. The only reason I import everything and keep the bloopers is just in case I might need them…. you never know. You can always delete them in LR once you’ve finished your editing.

The only downside I have found is that sidecar (xmp) files are created when you use PB. Once inside LR these sidecar files aren’t used (unless you are using sidecar files in LR of course). I’ve found they can be deleted safely once in LR, but then you lose the changes you made in PB. Chances are you’d never use PB again to view the images, so it’s not a showstopper. You can leave the files if you wish, but I dislike unnecessary files clogging up my hard drive.

Overall I like it a lot and can see it getting a lot of use. How long the free offer remains to be seen, and whether you can get minor upgrades when any bugs etc are fixed remains to be seen too. But it’s highly useable, and likable. Definitely worth a try, especially as it’s free.

Lightroom 6 /Lightrooom CC. GPU Acceleration: the good, the bad and the ugly.

The title says it all really: it’s got its good points, but at this stage, from what can be seen in the Adobe forums, there are far more problems than benefits for most users who have tried it, myself included.

Firstly however, why did Adobe implement it? The main reason is the advent of 4K and 5K monitors. These monitors run at 8MP and 15MP respectively: that’s a lot of data to process. Moving sliders around without GPU acceleration would give around a choppy, unresponsive 5fps. With GPU acceleration the sliders operate at a silky smooth 60fps (on a high end graphics card).

So there are massive gains to be had and in theory a much more pleasant user interface.

So all things should be great now, right?

Unfortunately not. The develop is the only module that currently has some GPU acceleration: all the other functions and modules, such as Library, Export, and Quick Develop, do not use the GPU acceleration.

Some? Yep…that’s right, some. So far this includes the basic and tone panel, panning and zooming, crop and straighten, lens corrections, gradients, and radial filter.

All these controls, even on a 3 year old GeForce GT 620 with only 1GB of DDR3 RAM, show a massive improvement in useability. The controls are smooth and responsive, pretty much instantaneous.  That’s the good part.

The bad part is that there is small delay in getting the image into the GPU in the first instance, so there is some lag in switching between images, which isn’t great. Not that it was great in the first place either. Switching between images was my biggest bugbear with LR. It’s always been slow compared with other RAW viewers. I’m almost at a point now where I’m going to have to cull images outside of LR and then bring them in, but I really don’t want to be doing that.

So what’s the ugly part? Well for me, and a lot of others, it’s that the controls, such as local brush adjustments and spot clone/heal, don’t have GPU acceleration,  at least not yet anyway. For me this is like buying a Ferrari and not getting given the wheels. A pretty pointless exercise.

It’s ugly not because it’s not any faster, but because it’s actually slower. Suddenly performing any changes using these tools becomes a clunky, slow process. Which is absolutely ridiculous, particularly given that the gradient tool (which is now super smooth) now has a brush function that is unuseable. Cue a Captain Picard facepalm.

And the really ugly? There have been a number of cases where users have reported a blue screen with a cross through it where, in theory, a graphics card that should be compatible, isn’t. So they can’t even get to try GPU support.

At the moment my GPU is disabled and I can see it staying this way for a period of time: Adobe’s bug list for LR6 seems to be growing at an exponential rate. I can put up with some slower sliders for the sake of smooth and functional brushes.

I’m just glad I didn’t pay for a new super-duper graphics card, because apparently it’s just as bad on some high end cards……….

Lightroom 6 /CC Photomerge HDR Review

After reviewing the Photomerge Panorama feature in Lightroom 6 / CC and, apart from a few niggles, being generally impressed with the result, naturally I decided to review the Photomerge HDR feature built into LR6.

Now, I don’t generally do much HDR: I don’t often like the ‘look’ so I try and keep it toned down and as natural looking compared with what is considered the ‘norm’ for HDR. I purchased the Photomatix 32-bit merge to HDR plugin for LR a while ago and have been using it to create numerous semi-HDR images by merging the RAW files into a 32-bit TIFF and manually tone mapping them in LR rather than using the full blown Photomatix Pro software. This allows a more realistic look to be created: the key is subtlety. From looking at other reviews and trying the feature itself, if subtlety is for you then LR HDR is for you. If you like some of the more adventurous settings that can be found in the full blown Photomatix software, then it’s very unlikely that LR HDR will float your boat.

Trey Ratcliffe falls into the latter category. His blog review was the first I read on the HDR feature and it made me a little bit sceptical about it. Trey’s work pretty much falls well inside the borderline of what I find acceptable HDR imaging. On his ‘review’page there is only one image that I don’t wholly like (I don’t dislike it either, I’m just on the fence) and that’s the cottage/ sunset photo. Everything else is very nicely done, so I was a little worried when he stated he thought the HDR feature was, well, pants to put it politely.

That really meant that I had to try it to see what it was like.

So what is it like? Well, like the panorama feature it’s easy to use: there isn’t much to it. Select the files from the filmstrip and press Ctrl + H, or right click and select Photomerge>HDR.

Up pops a dialogue window:

Options

Note once again it doesn’t fit the screen and neither can you zoom….please fix this Adobe!

Select if you want to auto-align the images (always a good idea), auto-tone the images (not a good idea) and the level of de-ghosting and hit merge.

As with the Panorama feature a single 16-bit DNG file is created having all the RAW editing capability of the single RAW files. Should you wish to change any setting after the HDR merge, say the white balance or exposure, you can do so. There is no need to edit the RAW files individually and have to remerge them again. It is a truly fantastic revelation: it’s a shame no other programs do this, but I guess now there is no need to.

And that’s it. If you were expecting anything else, then at this point you will probably feel very let down and disappointed. If on the other hand you love hand toning your images then this is right up your street.

If you’ve never done toning by hand before you are probably wondering what on earth LR has done to your image because it probably looks like it hasn’t done anything useful. At all. And that appears to be the consensus on the net: it hasn’t done anything useful, and why bother with it? To be honest I don’t blame you at all if you look at your image and come to that conclusion because it isn’t obvious what it has done. But trust me, it has. Read on and all will be revealed.

Here’s a set of images I want to merge: 7 photos overlooking Lake Windermere as the sun was setting. The scene isn’t brilliant I admit, I was just playing with settings at the time, it’s just that these popped up when I opened LR so it was convenient to use them.

Images

So, put them in the LR HDR mixer, and out pops this file:

LR HDR predit

Looks a little similar to image number 4, the middle exposure (shown below) doesn’t it?

Middle Exposure No Edit

Not surprising a lot of people are scratching their heads. But hidden within that 16-bit image is a LOT of data. You just need to uncover it. A quick shuffle of some sliders yields this:

LR HDR post edit

Now trying that with the middle exposure on its own gives you this:

Middle Exposure edited

Oh dear….. the ground is similar, but there is no detail in the sky around the sun and the clouds are blown out. In the LR HDR image, it’s all there. The image is much cleaner in terms of noise too. If you are a Canon shooter like myself then you’ll know that pushing the shadows hard is never a good idea. I don’t think I need be afraid of doing that again: noise in the shadows is very minimal, almost negligible in fact.

As a comparison I tried the Photomatix 32-bit merge to HDR plugin and this came out. The sun is burnt out there too. In all, not as good as LR (and bear in mind it’s a starting point, like the LR image).

HDR-32

When the exposure of the LR HDR image is matched to that of the Photomatix, it’s clear that LR is the winner.

HDR match HDRsfot

So, a lot of ticks in the boxes at the moment, but what about performance?

To be honest, compared with the Pano feature, it’s a bit of a slow coach: it took 1 minute 10 seconds just to preview the image, and 2 minutes from selecting the files to getting the final DNG.

The Photomatix plugin on the other took 1 minute 40 from start to finish and that included selecting a lot more tick boxes and changing settings in the dialogue box, not to mention exporting the images in the first place.

However, as IQ is far more important, this tends to pale into insignificance. LR allows you to carry on working on images whilst the merging chugs away in the background so it’s not exactly a problem.

LR6 gets another thumbs up from me: just fix the annoying preview where it doesn’t fill the screen or you can’t zoom please Adobe!

Storm over the lake

Stormy weather and rain overlooking Derwent Water, Lake District, from viewpoint near Latrigg.