Lightroom 2 beta


A very nice update to Lightroom just landed. I’m already a fan of LR for various reasons – speed, non-destructiveness being the main standouts.

The beta adds a few things I was just thinking the other day would be nice to be able to do without having to open Bridge (not exactly my favourite Adobe product!) You can create panoramas from multiple selected images or merge them to HDR. Multiple images can be opened as layers in one Photoshop document and perhaps most interestingly, images can be opened as Smart Objects in Photoshop to preserve the non-destructive nature of Lightroom’s editing.

Possibly the killer feature this time though, is the Retouch brush. Local editing without going to Photoshop! For me, this changes the game quite a bit with Lightroom. Dodging and burning become nice and easy and other brush effects are available, like being able to paint in Clarity, Saturation and Tint. And once you’ve brushed around, it’s possible to edit the effect of your strokes after the event, combining all the effects together. All this brushwork comes with an Auto Mask and a couple of Brush presets. All very nice.

Other interesting features I noticed:

  • Smart Collections, based on criteria including keywords, ratings, etc
  • post-crop vignette (in addition to full frame, so they can be combined)
  • 1:1 detail preview in the Detail palette
  • use of second monitor (for Grid view, or Compare, for example)
  • Split Toning gets a nice big colour picker
  • Suggested Keywords (not sure how this works as yet…)
  • Output to JPEG from print module
  • Enhance Print Sharpening
  • 64-bit support

Get it at Adobe Labs. Lightroom 2.0 Beta expires at the end of August.

White balance correction with levels

I originally wrote this for someone who was (and is, I suppose) colourblind to help him make WB adjustments without having to visually verfiy it. This technique works to get the balance pretty close to accurate (in most lighting situations) and could be used alongside greypoint selection.

Open your image and make an adjustment layer for levels.

Don’t edit the RGB – choose the channels individually (Ctrl+1, Ctrl+2, Ctrl+3).

So, starting with Red, check the histogram for “unused frequencies” that contain no picture information – i.e. that have a zero value and don’t register on the histogram.

Levels figure 1

Now you can move the black input slider up to where the histogram first starts to register something, or like the example below, up to where it first significantly registers something (i.e. not including the very low value at the bottom)

Levels figure 2

Now do the same for the white slider, although I’d be more circumspect with this or you can blow highlights quite easily. In my example, you’ll see that I’ve not cut into the histogram at all at the top end.

Do the same for all three channels and you’ll have a much more balanced tonal range.

Very occasionally this can lead to slightly odd (but sometimes interesting) results. In the main, though, this technique is pretty effective and will sort out very incorrect white balance, with trade-offs in absolute quality, obviously. I’ve corrected shots taken in bright sunlight that had incandescent white balance set.