Automatically Set White and Black Points in Lightroom

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Mentees, club members and students know that I tend to harp on getting the white and black points correct early in the editing process in Lightroom.  Well today I learned a trick to REALLY speed that up from none other than Mr. Scott Kelby It's very difficult.

Hold down SHIFT and double click on the words Whites and Blacks in the Basics panel in the Develop module.

Man, does this save time.  Thanks to Scott and for the article I learned this from click here

And if I can just say how pleased I am that Scott has taken over Lightroom Killer Tips because there's plenty of new content there.

Q & A : Clarity on Printer and Paper Profiling

To submit your question to The Photo Video Guy Q&A just send me an email at ross@thephotovideoguy.ca Just when I think that there may go a week without a question, I am saved by good folks with excellent questions.  This one comes from Denis.

"I hope all is well and you have the time to answer a question that has come up. I watched Scott's "Grid show #113 about printing your own work. They talk about calibrating your monitor and printer with the Color Munki. If you have set up that calibration of both does that interfere with the paper profile that you down load from the paper manufactures? I have been told you need to bring your paper that you want to print on to calibrate the printer. That would mean you would have to do that to each paper you will be using.

I would like to know if that calibration over rides the paper profile. Do you have to use samples of each paper to calibrate. I have been seeing on thing and told another. I am going to allowed access to a color munki so I can calibrate both. I would like to know how this works and separate the myth form the legend  ! ! ! !"

The Scott that Denis refers to is of course, Scott Kelby, most celebrated (deservedly) of web / new media photographic instructors.  I've written and reviewed on the subject of display profiling on multiple occasions with the fundamental answer, if you edit your own work, you MUST calibrate your display.  Denis' question goes to the next level, taking that calibration to the printer.

I believe in printing your images.  There is nothing like a print in hand.  Folks wanting to make their own great prints, know that there are many choices in printers, inks, and papers to use to product final artwork.  Any paper manufacturer that is actually serious about quality printing produces ICC profiles for their papers.  Let's start there.

An ICC profile characterizes the colour space, or input device, or output device according to standards set by the ICC (International Color Consortium).  It's basically a set of rules that say to achieve this colour space, make the following adjustments to the default settings.  ICC paper profiles provide definition on how to get accurate colour representation on a particular printer, with a particular paper with a certain ink set.  That does mean what it sounds like.  For example, I use an Epson 4900 printer.  So only ICC profiles for that printer are useful to me.  If I use Red River Paper's superb Polar Metallic paper, the ICC profile is for that paper, on that printer and assumes I am using the factory ink.  Since serious printers use pigment based inks over the less accurate dye based inks, this becomes even more important because variance in pigments is reduced and archival life is substantially longer.  With rare exceptions, a print made using the manufacturer's ICC profile for the specific paper on the specific printer will do a really fine job, presuming of course that the edits were made on a computer with a calibrated display.

But there are exceptions.  Perhaps you are experimenting with different surface types.  Perhaps the paper manufacturer whose products you use doesn't have a profile for your specific printer.  Perhaps you have tried the manufacturer's ICC profile and it just doesn't look right.  This is when you need to create a custom paper profile for your workspace.  This is more work than you might think but is as accurate as you can get.

The XRite Color Munki Photo does both displays and printers.  Many calibration tools only do displays.  I have personally paid for and used a number of tools for calibration and ONLY recommend products from the Color Munki line.  Other products have produced poor results and display considerable inconsistency.

With the Color Munki photo, you print a test print directly from the software.  It creates a series of patches printed using your printer on the paper you are using.  You then use the Color Munki Photo to scan the patches.  It then does some significant math and you then print a second different test print.  You then scan its patches and the software generates a new ICC profile that is unique to your setup, your printer, your inks, your paper.  At this point, you no longer use the manufacturer's ICC profile, you replace it with your own.

In order to get a good custom profile, you must wait the required drying times specified, as ink setup takes different amounts of time depending on the paper type, and whether it has OBAs or is resin coated (RC paper).  This makes constructing a custom profile a time consuming business.  Once you've built one custom profile, you might want to build one for every paper type you use.  And that's how it works.  The ICC profile you create is only valid for the one type of paper.  You'll use ink and at minimum two 8x10 sheets and about 40 minutes for every profile you create.  In theory you should be good from then on, but professional printers recommend redoing this every time you have a major ink change, and for each new lot of paper.

I recommend keeping a binder of all patch pages and the documentation from the manufacturer on best printer setups.  I annotate the documents to what works for me.  I print exclusively from Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.  The current release offers print proof and final printer brightness and contrast controls.  When I find a setting that works for my printer and a particular paper type, I document that for next time.  I also create specific printer setups in the Print Management function on my Macintosh so the next time I am going to print on Breathing Color Crystalline Satin Canvas roll paper, a single click sets the proper platen height, dpi and other settings.  You can probably do this on Windows too.  I have no idea how and no interest in figuring that out though.

I have printed on papers from Canon, Epson, Hahnemuhle, Canson Infinity, Red River, Moab, IT Supplies, Inkpress and Kodak.  Some are great, some are truly awful, and what works best for me may not be what works best for you.

On the subject of printers, I have printed on Xerox, HP, Canon, Fuji and Epson.  For home based printing, start and stop at Epson.  HP and Xerox do great office printers.  They are not photo printer manufacturers.  Fuji is production level, not for the home or even small business.  Canon should be great and maybe the recent Pro-1 is better, but having owned the 9000 Mk I, the 9000 Mk II and the 9500 Mk II, unless you plan on printing only on Canon branded paper, bypassing ICC altogether and printing from Canon's DPP software only, do not spend one thin dime here.  It's a great system if you stay completely in family. Otherwise it's a nightmare in excessive red.  Canon reps have acknowledged this and their response is use only Canon paper.  Screw that.  I do know that one of my inspirations in printing, Mr. Martin Bailey of Tokyo, uses Canon large format IPP printers and is very happy.  I believe though that Mr. Bailey builds custom ICC profiles for everything.

To learn more about making great prints yourself I recommend a couple of resources.  First is Martin Bailey's Making the Print eBook available at Craft and Vision here.  It's wonderful and will set you back all of $5!  For more depth and detail, the "bible" on the subject is Jeff Schewe's book The Digital Print available below through Amazon (and please buy through the link to help support The Photo Video Guy).

Thanks to Denis for the question and don't hesitate to be the next question answered here on The Photo Video Guy.

Recommended : The Grid October 17, 2013

I'm all over the place regarding The Grid.  Sometimes an episode is just fawning dreck, sometimes they just destroy aspiring photographers, and then there are the other times, in fairness - the majority, where they just hit it out of the park. If you've stopped doing HDR because seeing HDRs often makes your eyes hurt, tune in to Episode 117.  The segment on How Not to Hate HDR is extremely well done and worth watching.  Like many people, I have sinned in HDR and produced some truly nauseating offences, including halos, black clouds, HDR where it shouldn't be, HDRs in the worst kind of light and other crap.  I don't publish them, because they suck.  But there are photographers who think HDR is the cure for a lousy image.  The list of things not to do, or to do only when you are absolutely sure is very helpful.  They also show some decent HDRs from RC Concepcion that show how you can sometimes break the rules and get a nice image.  HDR processing is highly subjective, but in this case, I have to say that the list presented is an excellent set of guidelines to leverage.

The first part of the episode deals with the recent plagiarism scandal regarding Jasmine Starr and others.  Scott's presentation is balanced and reasonable and worth a listen.  Because a photographer screws up (and the people involved, screwed up big) does not immediately mean that the individual is a failure as a photographer, or is an evil entity.  They were stupid.  Evisceration is a bit over the top.

Watch the grid on the web at http://kelbytv.com/thegrid/

Need Vitriol? Admit subscribing to Creative Cloud

I was seriously disappointed when so many people started ripping Scott Kelby for trying to explain Creative Cloud.  He didn't tell anyone to subscribe, he was trying to explain what he saw.  I have a very good sense of what he felt like now. I announced yesterday on Google Plus that I had received an offer from Adobe targeted at CS6 Master Collection licensees and that following a phone conversation with Adobe, I decided to subscribe.  For me, the annual fee is less than half of what I have consistently paid for upgrades over the various iterations of Master Collection and even before that when Macromind and Adobe were different companies. 

Today, I am stupid, Darth Vader, a sellout, a transacter of souls, easily fooled by people with clipboards, a drinker of Koolaid and an abandoner of principles.  Like Mr. Kelby, I did not tell anyone to subscribe, but I did relate that I had chosen to, because I have been vocal on why I don't like leased software in the past.

I still don't like leased software.  I still own CS6 Master Collection and if my experiment with Creative Cloud doesn't work out, I still can use CS6 in perpetuity.  Would I prefer it if Adobe treated the Master Collection as they have Lightroom 5, that is to make it available as a subscription AND as a perpetual license, buyer decides?  Absolutely.  They didn't.  Sometimes business makes decisions we don't like and we can follow or not, our choice.

I was pleased that Adobe reduced the subscription cost to a price/value ratio that is acceptable to me.  Many are saying Adobe flinched and is in the process of caving in.  Maybe so.  There has certainly been a lot of negative flashback at Adobe for their decision but the data shows that over 1M customers have subscribed to Creative Cloud.  I assure you, if the price/value ratio was not acceptable to me, I wouldn't have done it, and time will tell whether it's a good buy.  The net is that I get to use all of Creative Cloud for one year for about the same cost as a one year membership to the Professional Photographers of America, a membership I have maintained for some time.  I can assure you that I will get more value from Creative Cloud in terms of tools and revenue, but that doesn't make the PPA membership useless.

Having spent more than fifteen years of my life working for software companies, I understand the piracy challenge all too well so I discount some of the complaining about Creative Cloud because it makes it harder for people to steal software.  Some complainers still have a principle argument against Adobe and despite their insults, I still support their arguments.  In the end my data is my data, and as I use tools to get to finished product, and after analysis have determined that I go back and revisit a work to enter the edit process midstream later occurs nearly never.  A finished photograph or a finished video are for me at least, finished.  In some ways it's like renting a tool from Home Depot.  Even when the tool is gone, I still have the cabinet I built with the tool.

I would definitely prefer if Adobe offered a license choice for Master Collection CC.  If they change their mind, I will likely go that route.  In the interim, I will try the components in Creative Cloud and make ongoing business decisions from there.   For those who care to heap insults on me for my decision, whatever.  You are entitled to your opinion, but in this case it's my money, my work, I don't tell anyone else to follow me.

New iPad app from Kelby Training - Light It

I really get a lot out of my membership in the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP).  Today I received a release advising of a new iPad magazine and delivery application called Light It.  It is produced by Kelby Media Group, who are well respected for the quality of their materials and sessions.  The magazine focuses on, unsurprisingly, studio lighting and off camera flash.  Since we all hate red-eye and that horrible deer in xenon lights look that comes from on camera or in camera flash, this magazine looks like it will be really useful.

The first issue is free, and Mr. Kelby's dark sense of humour might appreciate that it's a bit like a heroin dealer, the first taste is free.  Kelby Media Group produces excellent content that is not only informative but visually rich and the first issue of Light It delivers on the promise.

Yes you do need an iPad to use the magazine but if you are a photographer and don't yet have an iPad, here's another substantive reason to get one.  I use mine for a multitude of purposes including backup of my memory cards in the field during a shoot, so there's another justification.

The layout of the magazine is clean and elegant, the content is rich and instantly usable and I'm very excited to find this resource.  I've focused on the articles and have not yet determined how future issues will be delivered or what the cost will be, but given my positive experiences with NAPP and Kelby Training, I'm pretty confident it will be a great value.  Perhaps they will use the Newstand functionality that is coming in IOS5.

Take a look, I think you'll be impressed.

Peace.

Ross