Lightroom gadgets – LrControl

The new kid on the block, LrControl from Peltmade, is looking like a very promising and economical option for midi controllers on both Windows and Mac.

 

Controls

The LrControl functions are almost entirely focused on the Develop module, apart from star ratings and flags. At the time of writing, LrControl can affect about 160 different Lightroom sliders/buttons, depending on the number of buttons, dials (encoders) and sliders (faders) on your midi controller.

If you had a fader for every slider in the Develop module, you’d need a controller that took up your entire desk, and you’d need very long arms. Hardly ideal! To solve this issue, midi controllers use the concept of layers – essentially switching sets of controls, like a modifier key. When you press one button, the faders affect the Basic sliders. Press another button, and the faders change the Effects panel sliders (and LrControl very helpfully opens the applicable panel too, so you can see what you’re doing). This means a huge number of controls can be fitted into a small space on your desk.

Behringer BCF2000Most midi controllers are not motorized. This means that the fader position doesn’t match the slider position when you switch photos. If you moved the Exposure fader right to the bottom on the previous photo, when you start to move it on the next photo, Lightroom’s Exposure slider jumps to -5 and the picture goes dark. This can be quite disconcerting, and is hopeless if you’re trying to tweak photos that you’ve already edited. This can be avoided by using devices such as the Behringer XTouch Mini, with its endless encoders (dials), or the Behringer BCF2000 with its motorized faders that automatically move to match the Lightroom settings for the selected photo.

nanoKONTROL2On devices which don’t have motorized faders, such as the nanoKONTROL2, you can use a button to enable “pickup mode”. This ignores your fader movement until you reach Lightroom’s current slider value. It feels quite odd to move the slider in the wrong direction before you can move it in the right direction. For example, if the fader is at the bottom, and you want to darken the photo, you have to move it upwards, past the current setting (e.g. half way), and then down to your desired brightness. If you have an inexpensive and small midi controller, this is the compromise you make.

There are still some missing functions that I consider essential – most notably, the Previous and Sync buttons. It’s also missing a few checkbox toggles, such as Constrain Crop, so you may still need to reach for the mouse occasionally. LrControl can’t apply Develop presets yet either, which may be an issue for heavy preset users. These omissions are purely a sign of its early stage of development, and having talked to the developer, I’m sure they’ll be added in due course.

 

Flexibility

Because LrControl uses a Lightroom plug-in, it only works with Lightroom. That said, other software is available, which would allow you to use the same midi controller in other programs.

I’ve been testing the 1.4 release, due for release later this week, which adds customization. This means you can change the behavior of various sliders and dials to suit your own needs, which will be a welcome addition.

Because LrControl uses a separate device, rather than your standard keyboard, it doesn’t override any of Lightroom’s normal keyboard shortcuts. This is particularly useful where specific commands, such as the Previous button, aren’t currently available on the midi controller.

LrControl uses a Lightroom plug-in, so it’s quite responsive. There’s a slight lag initially, just to give Lightroom time to fully load the photo. If you’re looking for blazing speed on a high volume of photos, midi controllers aren’t the tool for the job, in my opinion, as there’s too much hand movement involved. They’re better suited to slower, more thoughtful editing, allowing you to focus entirely on the photo without having to look at the sliders.

 

Learning Curve

The setup process is very simple, with a standard installer that puts the plug-in in the correct location. If the midi controller is at its factory defaults, there’s no additional setup to do. If you purchase a second hand midi controller, you may need to figure out how to reset it.

Personally, I found the layout of the Behringer BCF2000 quicker to learn than the nanoKONTROL. The only oddity is the Temperature control, which is split across 2 dials because the slider range is so wide. The first dial makes large adjustments, and the second makes finer adjustments.

There are a couple of places where the default fader order doesn’t match the Lightroom slider order (for example, the Tone Curve faders), which makes it difficult to remember which is which, but with the new customization feature, you’ll be able to switch them round quite easily.

 

Size & Ergonomics

The size of midi controllers varies. By way of comparison, here’s the  Behringer BCF2000 (left), the Apple keyboard (top right, for comparison), the nanoKONTROL2 (center right), and the Behringer X-Touch Mini (bottom right, aka the PFixer MiniMal).

Lightroom midi controllers

As we said in the PFixer review, midi controllers aren’t built for this type of use, so the ergonomics aren’t perfect.

The Behringer BCF2000 is huge, at approximately 13″ x 11.8″ x 4″ (33cm x 30cm x 10cm), so you’ll need plenty desk space to spare. The sliders and dials move easily, and if you’re going for a midi controller, the motorized faders are worth having. Even with its huge size, this would be my choice of midi controller. Because of its height, it would be more comfortable to use on a lower desk or on a lap tray. A large under-desk pull out keyboard drawer would be ideal if it had enough clearance, saving desk space and putting the device at a more comfortable height.

At the other end of the scale, the nanoKONTROL2 is just 12.80″ x 3.27″ x 1.18″ (32.5cm x 8.3cm x 3cm). The encoders (dials) and faders (sliders) are slightly stiffer to move and the shorter length of the faders makes it more difficult to fine tune the slider position. However, it’s very inexpensive, has a huge number of controls, and if you’re interested in using a midi controller with Lightroom, it’s a good way of dipping your toe in the water.

 

OS & Lightroom Compatibility

LrControl only works with the current Lightroom version – Lightroom CC or Lightroom 6. Since it uses Adobe’s Lightroom SDK, it should work in future versions of Lightroom too.

It works with all of the operating systems that Lightroom supports. All of the supported controllers are USB compliant, so no drivers are needed. This means you don’t need to worry about it breaking when you upgrade your operating system.

 

Instructions & Support

The installation process is simple, using a standard installer, and there are demo videos on Peltmade’s Vimeo channel, showing how the controls work with the most popular controllers.

The tables of controls for each midi controller look quite complicated to start with, due to the sheer number of controls, but they become easier to understand once you get the hang of layers (sets of settings). It’s worth printing the PDF so you can refer to it frequently until the controls become second nature.

It’s clearly early days for LrControl, and the website and software are still under development, but I’ve found Boudewijn to be very responsive to suggestions and feedback.

 

Cost & Trial Versions

The LrControl plug-in costs just $49*

You’ll also need a midi controller. The two I’ve tested are:

  • nanoKONTROL2 costs around $48/£34.00 * from Amazon.
  • Behringer BCF2000 costs around $220/£269*

There is a trial version of the software which works for the first 10 minutes every time you open Lightroom. You’ll need a controller, of course, but many online stores accept returns if you decide it isn’t for you.

* Prices correct at the time of writing.

* Full disclosure – Boudewijn loaned me a Korg nanoKONTROL2 and Behringer BCF2000 for testing. I receive no compensation for this review.

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Lightroom Performance – Preferences & Catalog Settings

In addition to optimizing the computer, you can optimize your Lightroom preferences and catalog settings for best performance.

 

Lightroom Updates

Lightroom is usually updated every 2-4 months, and these updates frequently include performance improvements as well, so it’s worth staying up to date.

If you have a CC subscription, open the CC app to check for updates. If a new update has been released but isn’t available in your CC app, click the cog icon and select Check for App Updates. If you have a perpetual (standalone) license, go to Help menu > Updates.

updatelr

Occasionally, an update introduces new bugs that aren’t spotted before release, so it’s also worth knowing how to roll back, just in case you do run into problems. If you’re not completely comfortable with this process, you may be safer to wait until the update has been available for a few days, just in case any serious new bugs surface. Keep an eye on my What’s New blog posts for the latest news.

 

Optimize the Catalog

Over the course of time, with many imports and deletions, the data in Lightroom’s catalog can become fragmented and spread across the whole database, making Lightroom jump around to  find the information it needs. The File menu > Optimize Catalog command “tidies up” and sorts it all back into the right order, bringing it back up to speed.

optimizecatalog

It’s worth running the catalog optimization whenever you’ve made significant database changes, such as removing or importing a large number of photos, or any time you feel that Lightroom has slowed down. There’s also a checkbox in the Back Up Catalog dialog to automatically run the optimization each time you back up your catalog, which saves you having to remember.

 

Enable Graphics Processor checkbox

We’ve already discussed the GPU in the last couple of posts. As a reminder, if you’re using a standard resolution screen, you probably want to turn it off. If you’re using a 4K or 5K screen, you probably want it turned on. If you’re using a smaller retina/HiDPI screen (e.g. a MacBook Pro), try it on and off and see which you prefer. The checkbox is found under Edit menu (Windows) / Lightroom menu (Mac) > Preferences > Performance.

 

Auto-write XMP off

By default, all of the work you do in Lightroom, such as adding keywords or Develop edits, is stored as text instructions in the Lightroom catalog. If you need to make the metadata available to other programs, such as Bridge or Camera Raw, you need to store it in/with the files using a metadata format called XMP. Some users also use XMP as an additional (but incomplete) backup of edits.

If you frequently edit your photos in other software such as Bridge, writing changes automatically saves you having to remember to do so. However, it can have a notable impact on performance, especially if the photos are stored on a slower drive. To check and change your auto write preference, go to Edit menu (Windows) / Lightroom menu (Mac) > Catalog Settings > Metadata tab > Automatically Write Changes Into XMP. If you choose to turn auto-write off, you can manually write to XMP at any time by selecting the photos in Grid view and selecting Metadata menu > Write Metadata to Files.

 

Render the Best Previews & Cache Settings for Your Needs

Finally, Lightroom uses a number of different types of previews and caches, and it’s worth gaining a basic understanding so you can optimize the settings for your own workflow. We’ll discuss this in the next post in the series.

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More from Photoshop World Day 1!

Here’s a glimpse at what happened yesterday at Photoshop World Orlando after the keynote! Photos by Brad Moore and Rob Foldy.

The post More from Photoshop World Day 1! appeared first on Scott Kelby's Photoshop Insider.

Photoshop World Opening Keynote and More!

Hey gang, here’s another quick update from Photoshop World Orlando, day one! Check out these shots from today’s opening keynote presentation and some other things that have happened so far. Photos by Brad Moore and Rob Foldy.

The post Photoshop World Opening Keynote and More! appeared first on Scott Kelby's Photoshop Insider.

Scenes from Photoshop World Workshops and More!

We’re off to a great start at Photoshop World Orlando! Here are some scenes from our pre-conference workshops, The Grid Live, and The Meetup. Photos by Brad Moore and Rob Foldy. Check back later for photos from the opening Keynote with Adobe!

The post Scenes from Photoshop World Workshops and More! appeared first on Scott Kelby's Photoshop Insider.

10 Years of Lightroom

On February 19th 2007 – 10 years ago today – Adobe officially announced the release of Lightroom 1.0. How time flies! So today, I thought we’d take a trip down memory lane…

 

Lightroom Betas

On January 9, 2006, Adobe released the first public beta of Project Shadowland, which became Lightroom. The project had already been in development for a few years, and Jeff Schewe does an excellent job of telling the story of the earliest stages.

The first beta was only for Mac OSX and didn’t even have a crop tool, although that was quickly added. The Develop module had many of the tools from Photoshop’s Camera Raw plug-in, so even in its earliest stages, it was a capable raw processor. Further beta versions added Windows support, hierarchical keywords, Develop History, the Web module, and more.

In June 2006, Adobe purchased Pixmantec, and its developers moved over to work with Thomas Knoll on the Camera Raw raw processing engine for Lightroom, resulting in new sliders such as Vibrance.

Over 500,000 individuals were reported to have used the beta versions. I recently installed beta 2 in a virtual machine, so here are a few screenshots, showing just how far we’ve come. How distracting those bright panels were!

In 2006, the Canon 1DS Mk II (16.7MP), 5D (12.8MP) and 30D (8.2MP), and the Nikon D2Xs (12.4MP) and D200 (10.2MP) were current. What a contrast with the huge sensors we see today!

In 2006, there was no such thing as a tablet, most people had never heard of smartphones, and the first Intel MacBook Pro had only just been released. 2GB of RAM was considered high-end, with many systems shipping with just 512MB. Those were the days of 80GB hard drives. Twitter wasn’t even launched until July 15, 2006! Photoshop was still on CS2.

I bought my first Mac to run those early Lightroom betas, but I’d just started a raw processing business, so I didn’t have much time to play. Nevertheless, I saw enough to know it was going to be great.

 

Lightroom 1

On February 19, 2007, Lightroom 1.0 was officially released. The release version had some major changes from the earlier betas. In the Library module, Folders replaced the previous Shoots concept, and a Survey view was added. You could flag and label photos, filter photos based on their metadata, create virtual copies and snapshots, and stack similar photos. The Develop module gained the TAT tool, red eye reduction and spot removal.

As is often the case with brand new software, development continued at a remarkable pace over the following months. Dot releases added the ability to use multiple catalogs and transfer photos between them. The Develop module also gained better sharpening controls and the Clarity slider, and the Painter tool was added to the Library module.

  

2007 was also the year of the first iPhone, the Kindle, and the year Dropbox was founded. Photoshop CS3 was released on April 16, 2007.

I had a Lightroom training session booked for just one week after 1.0’s release (hello Dan & Ann!), so I had to learn quickly. Of course, it was a much simpler program in those days.

I’ve always been a big fan of keyboard shortcuts and there wasn’t a list available, so I immediately set about tracking down all the known shortcuts, and more importantly, the hidden ones. I’ve continued to update the list with each new release, so if you ever need keyboard shortcuts, you’ll find them in the Resources section of this website. With each new release, I also started publishing a detailed blog post on what had changed. That series is still running today, in the “What’s New in This Release” category.

I spent a lot of time on the forums over the following months, and that’s where I was given the nickname “The Lightroom Queen.” Since I was answering many of the same questions over and over again, fellow forum members suggested I turn all of these FAQ’s into a book, and so this Lightroom Queen website and the Missing FAQ series of books were born. It was a much smaller book in those days, with the LR1 book totalling around 42,000 words.

 

Lightroom 2

On April 2, 2008, a public beta of Lightroom 2 was released, followed by the official release of 2.0 on July 29, 2008.

The Library module added better filtering and smart collections and Lightroom started suggesting keywords based on previous keyword combinations and images nearby.

The Develop module gained the adjustment brush, graduated filter and post-crop vignette. The DNG Profile Editor and Camera Emulation profiles were also released for the first time with 2.0.

Other improvements included 64-bit OS support, dual monitor support, output sharpening, picture packages and JPEG output in the Print module, and more.

In 2008, the Canon 1DS Mk III (21.1MP), 5D Mk II (21.1MP) and 50D (15.1MP) and the Nikon D3 (12MP), D700 (12.1MP) and D300(12.3MP) were popular choices. Sensor sizes were growing, and more importantly, the noise in high ISO images was starting to improve.

Also in 2008, the first Android smart phone was released, iPhone was updated to 3G, the iOS App Store was launched, and Google released the first public version of Chrome. Photoshop CS4 was released on October 15, 2008.

I’d released my first Missing FAQ book, for version 1.4.1, just a few weeks earlier, and the Lightroom 2 version was ready for release day. Shortly after my Lightroom 2 book was published in PDF format, readers started requesting printed versions, so a few months later it was published in B&W print for the first time.

 

Lightroom 3

On October 22, 2009, Adobe released the first public beta of Lightroom 3. A second beta followed in March 23, 2010, and Lightroom 3.0 was finally released on June 8, 2010.

Image quality was priority for this release, so the raw processing engine was given a major overhaul with new demosaic algorithms, improved sharpening and noise reduction, new lens and perspective corrections, a more advanced post-crop vignette, grain effect and a point curve. This was called PV2010, which replaced the earlier PV2003.

The Library module added Publish Services for managed exports, making it easy to keep photo sharing websites updated with changes.

The new Import dialog was the biggest visual change – and the biggest shock for many users. It went from being a very simple dialog with minimal controls, to a much more complex and capable dialog.

Other improvements included watermarks, custom print packages, tethered shooting, and basic video support.

 

In 2010, the Canon 5D Mk II (21.1MP), 7D (18MP) and 60D (18.1MP) and the Nikon D3S (12.1MP), D700 (12.1MP) and D300S (12.3MP) were popular choices.

In 2009, Gmail came out of beta, and for the first time, Facebook saw more traffic than MySpace. In 2010, we were introduced to the iPad, and Instagram was launched. 2011 saw the first “phablet”  with the release of the Samsung Galaxy Note. Photoshop CS5 was also released on April 30, 2010.

The beta period was so long that I released “rough cut” versions of my Lightroom 3 book. With the increasing popularity of eReaders, the final version of the book was released for the first time in ePub and Kindle formats, as well as PDF and B&W paperback.

 

Lightroom 4

On January 9, 2012, Lightroom 4 beta was released. It was just a short beta this time, with Lightroom 4.0 released on March 5, 2012.

Lightroom 4 was a huge release, adding 2 new modules (Book & Map) and completely rewriting the Basic panel tools, with the release of PV2012 and its tone-mapped Highlights/Shadows sliders.

The Develop module also added soft proofing, RGB curves, more local adjustments, intelligent chromatic aberration controls, support for 32-bit HDR files, and folders for Develop presets.

The Library module added basic video editing, export direct to email, reverse geocoding and changed flags from local to global.

There was also a new lossy DNG format, which allowed the creation of much smaller files with much of the editing flexibility of raw files.

To top it all off, Adobe halved the price tag! This meant that Lightroom was now within reach of many amateur photographers, as well as professionals.

By 2012, we were using cameras like the Canon 1DX (18.1MP), 5D Mk III (22.3MP), 7D (18MP) and 60D (18.1MP) and the Nikon D4 (16.2MP), D800 (36.3MP) and D300S (12.3MP).
In 2012, Facebook officially had more than 1 billion active users for the first time, and Pinterest became available to everyone. Photoshop reached CS6 on May 7, 2012, as the last of the Creative Suite versions.

In November 2011, Adobe had announced their plans for the Creative Cloud subscription service, and on June 26, 2012, Lightroom was added to the Creative Cloud for the first time. Just over a year later, on September 4, 2013, they announced the Photographer’s Bundle at just $9.99 a month… and 3 1/2 years on, the price still hasn’t increased (other than for currency fluctuations in some regions).

There were so many changes in Lightroom 4, I decided to completely rewrite the book, making it a more complete guide to Lightroom. The book grew fast, going from around 100,000 words for LR3 to more than 150,000 for LR4.

 

Lightroom 5

Lightroom 5 followed only 15 months after Lightroom 4’s release, with the public beta being released on April 15, 2013, and the Lightroom 5.0 release following on June 10, 2013.

It was a smaller release this time, but with some very nice tweaks. The Library module gained the ability to build and use Smart Previews to work with offline images, and the new DNG Validation feature checked the integrity of DNG files.

The Develop module added the Radial Filter, advanced spot removal (non-circular healing), the Visualize Spots tool to help to identify sensor dust, and automatic perspective correction (Upright).

Adobe also added support for PNG files, video files in slideshows, and some simple custom layout tools in the Book module, among other small tweaks.

Lightroom mobile for iPad was introduced on April 8, 2014, with the iPhone version following on June 18. The Android version took a little longer, with the first phone release being launched on January 15, 2015.


In the Lightroom 5 book, I added a new Quick Start section for new Lightroom users, as previous versions had assumed some previous experience with editing software. I also released a free Lightroom Quick Start eBook for email subscribers, which was downloaded tens of thousands of times in the first few weeks, and has been updated again a few times since, for changes in later Lightroom releases.

 

Lightroom CC / 6

On April 21, 2015, Lightroom 6 was released without a public beta, and at the same time, Adobe changed the branding, separating Lightroom CC from the perpetually licensed version 6. They’re still the same program files, but the CC version has access to additional new features. For the first time, Lightroom 6 also requires online activation. We can thank the pirates for that!

The big news in this release was Face Recognition, which had been one of the most requested features for some years. Touch enabled PC’s also gained a touch workspace similar to Lightroom mobile.

They also added HDR merge, which creates high dynamic range files ready for editing in the Develop module, and Panorama merge, saving a trip to an external editor.

Since 4K and 5K monitors have become much more common, work began on GPU acceleration, to help make editing on high resolution screens much smoother.

The Develop module also gained smaller features, such as the ability to brush away parts of gradients and move adjustment brush strokes, and the new Pet Eye tool.

For CC users, there have been additional new features added since the 6.0 release. They include Dehaze, local Whites/Blacks, improved panorama merge and the new Guided Upright tool, as well as all of the improvements made to Lightroom Mobile and Web.

Cameras have continued to make significant progress. Popular DSLR’s now include the Canon 1DX Mk II (18.1MP), 5D Mk IV (30.1MP), 7D Mk II (20.2MP) and 80D (24.2MP), and the Nikon D5 (20.8MP), D810 (36.3MP), D750 (24.3MP) and D500 (20.9MP). In recent years, mirrorless cameras have also gained popularity, with pro-level cameras from Sony, Fuji and Olympus.

Sensor sizes have grown at a crazy rate, with the Canon 5DS (50.6MP) and the Sony A7R II (42.4MP), and even higher resolution sensors in development. With these “improvements” comes a need for greater storage and processing power in our computers too. Fortunately, 512MB of RAM and 80GB hard drives are no longer the norm!

The difference in noise handling, compared to 10 years ago, is night and day. In 2006, cameras could shoot up to around 3200 ISO, and they were almost unusably noisy. Now, many cameras offer up to 51200 ISO, and even as much as 409600 on some cameras.

Lightroom CC/6 The Missing FAQ BookI spent the 2 years between Lightroom 5 and Lightroom 6’s release completely rewriting the entire book, making it easier for new users to grasps the basics of Lightroom using the new Fast Track feature, but also ensuring that all of Lightroom’s features are covered in detail, making it a complete reference book. For the first time, the book was published in color print, as well as multiple eBook formats. This blog has been busier than ever, and I also released a free Lightroom Performance eBook for email subscribers.

 

What’s next?

Who knows what the next 10 years will hold for Adobe, Lightroom and other photography software.

 

Finally, I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your continued support. My life has changed completely over the last 10 years, thanks to Lightroom, and more importantly, thanks to you, my lovely readers. I look forward to continuing to support you in the years to come.

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Lightroom Presets for iPhones: Posting on Instagram

There is a fantastically simple trick to using Cuba Gallery Presets in Lightroom Mobile.
Here are a few simple steps:

1. Create a collection of images with your favourite presets applied in the standard desktop version of Lightroom.
2. Using Adobe Creative Cloud sync images and collections between the desktop and mobile versions. 
3. Once you’ve synced up the images from your desktop you can copy and paste image settings onto new images
4. Now you can start posting on Instagram from your phone using Lightroom.

 

Using Lightroom Mobile Presets to post on Instagram

There is a fantastically simple trick to using Cuba Gallery Presets in Lightroom Mobile.
Here are a few simple steps:

1. Create a collection of images with your favourite presets applied in the standard desktop version of Lightroom.
2. Using Adobe Creative Cloud sync images and collections between the desktop and mobile versions. 
3. Once you’ve synced up the images from your desktop you can copy and paste image settings onto new images
4. Now you can start posting on Instagram from your phone using Lightroom.

 

Adding Overlays To Lightroom’s Loupe View

It’s Tuesday (did I mention it’s the day before the Photoshop World Preconference workshops start? Well, it is. Whoo hoo!!!), and of course, that means it’s time for Benjamin Warde’s awesome 60-second Lightroom Coffee Break. This time, he’s showing you some very helpful overlays you can add to your Loupe view (the larger zoomed-in view) in the Library module.

Good to know these are there, right? Thanks Ben! 🙂

OK, I’m heading to Orlando today — looking forward to meeting everybody over there. It’s gonna be a Lightroom love-fest! 🙂

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Next month I’m in Minneapolis and Indianapolis with my Lightroom full-day seminar. Hope you can come out and join me. 

The post Adding Overlays To Lightroom’s Loupe View appeared first on Lightroom Killer Tips.

Bridal Shoot (with behind-the-scenes shots and camera settings)

Hey, it’s Photoshop World week, and to celebrate, today I thought I’d share some shots from a recent bridal shoot I did for a project I’m working on.

The shoot took place at Casa Bella – a beautiful 9,000 sq ft. luxury home/venue for weddings and events in our area. I teamed up with my awesome wife Kalebra who did all the styling and art direction for the shoot (she’s just a blast to be on a shoot with — she brings an energy, and fun to the shoot that’s contagious. Also, seeing how she sees things, and how she works with our subjects is really something to see — she should do a class on it).

Above: Here’s the behind-the-scenes shot (photo by Juan Alfonso) of me taking the image at the top of the page. I’m sitting on an Apple box (see below) so I’m not quite on the floor (maybe 6″ up from it) but I put my camera (a Canon 5D Mark III)  directly on the ground in front of me, tilted up at the bride, using a Canon 14mm super wide-angle lens. You can see I’m pretty close to where the bride is standing, but look how much farther away she looks in the image up top.

Above: These Matthews Apple Boxes come in really handy. This is a half box (just 4″ high), but in a lot of cases, it’s a whole lot better than sitting on the ground. They are sturdy as anything, and you can stack ’em, too! We have them in different sizes, and use them mostly in the studio, either to get a higher angle or a much lower one. 

Two things that super wide angle does:
(1) When you put it on the floor like this, it makes the entire scene have more of an epic sprawling look — even in small spaces like this.

(2) Putting it on the floor like this, makes the floor appear MUCH more reflective than it really is, and you get a shine and reflection that you won’t get standing up, or even shooting on your knees. I can’t tell you exactly why it works like that…but it sure does.

Above: Shooting w inith our bride the same spot— I just stood up, backed way up, and used my 70-200mm f/2.8 zoomed in to 140mm.

Camera Settings:
I’m at 200 ISO at 1/400 of a second at f/2.8. I shot at f/2.8 for two reasons: (1) To get the background behind her a bit soft and out of focus, and because believe it or not, even though she was standing in front of a door with glass panes, the door is inset from the front of the house by quite a bit (there’s a large covered entryway), so the light wasn’t that bright. That’s also why I had to increase my ISO to 200 — there’s not as much light there, at that time of day, then you’d think.

Above: A third look with her in the exact same spot — I just walked closer, and then zoomed into 142mm. 

Lighting
When we first walked in, I asked Kathy (who was assisting me on the shoot), to rig up a flash with a Westcott 26″ Rapid box octa mounted to the end of a monopod, but as it turned out — we were able to just go with natural light the entire 4-hour shoot, and we never used it once. That’s pretty rare, but the lighting throughout was pretty good, even though a few times I had to raise my ISO to 200 or 400 here and there.

Above: More of an editorial look for this shot taken in the bride’s dressing suite, just using the light from the windows. f/2.8 at 1/80 of a second at 200 ISO. Again, not as much light as you’d think, which is why I had a slower shutter speed and higher ISO, even at f/2.8.

I converted the image to black and white in Lightroom CC, and added the duotone effect using Lightroom’s Split Toning panel (shown here).To get the duotone look, I boosting the Saturation amount and moved the Hue slider to a brownish hue in the Shadows only (no adjustments to the Highlights split toning at all). TIP: When you’re setting the Hue and your Saturation amount is low like it is here, it’s sometimes hard to see exactly which hue you’re choosing, so hold the Option Key as you drag it, and it acts as though the Saturation amount is set to 100 which helps a lot.

Above: This is one of my favorites from the shoot, taken in the bridal suite. I switched to the 70-200mm for this one, and I’m at 70mm (I would have liked to have gotten back farther and shoot at 150mm or so, but my back was against the wall, so I couldn’t go back any farther, and didn’t want to switch to a wide angle — I wanted the look that the 70-200mm gives. I’m at f/2.8 at 1/250 of a second shutter at ISO 200).

She’s far enough away from the window that the lighting is very soft and subtle, which I really like.

Above: The “dream-like” quality is provided with a soft glow in post. While you can get a glow effect in Lightroom, it’s not awesome, so I usually use a plug-in. I’ve been using Luminar a lot more lately (a plug-in from Macphun that’s gotten really popular in the past few months), and they have a great built-in glow effect. I also have a bunch of presets that I made (that MacPhun is giving way with a promotion they’re doing), but in this case, I’m not using one of my presets — just the Soft Glow filter.

Above: I loved this hallway, and since our bride had been in ballet, she was cool with doing some dramatic poses. All natural light coming in from a nearby door.

Above: That’s me, sitting on a 1/2 height Apple box again, with the camera directly in front of me, right on the tile floor, with the 14mm lens aiming up. Once again, note the reflection on the floor.

Above: Finally, a shot with lots of light — I let the windows totally blow out again, and I intentionally overexposed the whole image for a bright, airy look. I had to go down to 1/30 of a second shutter speed to let this much light in, at f/2.8 at 200 ISO and I’m at 85mm on my 70-200mm. Again, my back is up against another wall. Would have liked to have gotten back further, and zoomed in tighter, but it’s still one of my favorites from the shoot.

Above: Taking advantage of our subject having been a ballerina, Kalebra had her strike this pose, with her positioned in front of one of the French Doors in the estate. We pulled the sheers to cover the window and somewhat control the light, but we wanted that blown out, over-exposed look — we just wanted it soft.

Hope you found any/some/part of that helpful. Can’t wait to share the whole project with you when it’s done. :)

A big thanks and shoutout to Kalebra for the styling and art direction, and for being my partner in this production from the start, and to Jen Coffin for helping with the production side big time. Thanks to Kathy Porupski for assisting on the gig, keeping things moving, and helping all the way around, and to our bride Julianna for being so patient, and easy to work with. :)

Have a great start to your week, and see ya back here tomorrow for Guest Blog Wednesday.

Best,

-Scott

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