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Using Lightroom to buy a Lens

I’ve been thinking about buying a new lens for several years now, and I can never figure out what I want to get.

At the moment, I only carry three lenses:

I lost my EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM last spring, when it decided to go for a swim, and picked up the 75-300mm as a quick replacement.

I must say there is a noticeable difference between those two lenses.

Anyhow…

In my effort to figure out what Lens I wanted to purchase next, I needed to assess my style of photography, again.

In my film camera days, I carried 5-6  fixed length lenses, but in the digital age, I’ve gone down to three.

Mentally I had an idea, but I had no data to back up my real work environment.

Or so I thought…

While in Adobe Lightroom, I realized I could use the EXIF data contained in the metadata of each file – Lens and Focal Lengths!

This is a very fascinating look, at all of one’s images, over 31,000 in this one catalog!

Using Lightroom and the embedded EXIF metadata information, I could clearly see:

Most Used Lens

  • 18mm-55mm –  8168 images (25.79%)
  • 28-135mm –  16332 images (51.56%)
  • 70-300mm –  3798 images (11.99%)
  • 75-300mm –  1996 images (6.30%)

Most Used Focal Lengths

  • 18mm – 4258 images (13.44%)
  • 28mm – 4363 images (13.78%)
  • 70mm – 1339 images (4.23%)
  • 135mm – 2626 images (8.29%)
  • 300mm – 1888 images (5.96%)

Needless to say, sorting by every focal length alone is a large grouping, but in my case, I looked for any Focal Length over 1000 images or spikes.

Oddly, there is no spike around 55mm (473 images), which suggests that I never really used the 18mm-55mm all the way zoomed in.

Here is an exercise: What if your Lens happens to cross over in their Focal Length?

In this case, simply isolate/select a given Lens and Record the Focal Length numbers, which can reveal which Lens you actually used for a similar situation, and Thumbnails, just below.  It’s a great way to remind you of what you did!

I wish there was a way to export the data and bring it into a spread sheet for my geeky fun! (Note to Self…)

In my case, it turns out to be the Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM, which is now verified with actual Lens data.

That did not surprise me in the least, but which side of the Lens should I consider for my next Lens?

Clearly, my next largest ranges are 18mm (13.44%) and 28mm (13.78%) — about 27.22% of the images.

At the same time do I look at the 70-300mm range, which is 18.29%, because I a shot 70mm+ 18.46% of the time?

If this confuses you, don’t worry, because the more you dig into the data, the worse it becomes!

Try some of these!

  • Sort by Year – See how your Capture needs have changed
  • Sort by Body – Most used combinations to compare results

The list goes on.

I just wanted to highlight another aspect of Adobe Lightroom that might help you in your decision-making.

Now if you have any ideas on what I should do about my Lens dilemma, please let me know via email.

Update(s) –

07/17/2015 – In my morning reading, I ran into this site lightroomdashboard.com, in which you upload your Lightroom catalog file (.lrcat), and it will visualize your shooting habits. With a backup of my live catalog (1.27 GBs), I tried the “Drag-n-Drop” interface, and Chrome crashes. There is a Note that says they are aware of issues with 2+ GBs LR Catalogs. I would not be surprised their server(s) are being hit hard today. Need to check later.

>>> “Commenting Off” because of Spammers – send email! <<<

- Andrew
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Keywords & Lightroom

I’ve been using Adobe Lightroom ever since it first came out, and during that time, I have always used Keywords for my images (40,000+). Lately, however, I have revisited my ‘home made’ Keyword List, and have stumbled onto a whole sub-topic within Lightroom that I wish I had found MUCH earlier!!

Here is one of the best tutorials on the subjects, which I found on lightroomqueen.com

Why Keyword A Stock Photograph?

It is not that technical or difficult, but the challenge is how deep you want to get into keywords.

What got me revisiting my Keyword List was a need to publish more stock photography, which requires keywords, and the more the better!

What is also kind of fun, along with frustrating, are the words and the various synonyms! As you go through the List, you realize that a given Word can have so many meanings or spellings, especially in English!

Getting Started, Again!

As mentioned earlier, I have been using the Keywords since I started, so essentially it was just a straight alphabetized list of words, without any organization.

After finding the Lightroom Keyword List Project website, which is Open Source and Free, I downloaded the Foundation List (ver 1.0.1), and Imported it into Lightroom.

Mistake One!

Stupid me…

After using computers for 30+ years…

I never Exported my ‘homemade’ List as a Backup BEFORE I started.

Oops…

So I have the GIGANTIC list of Words, some of which are organized, but most not…

I should have organized my ‘homemade’ Key Word List first, and then Imported the Foundation List.

Lessons Learned

At the moment, I have spent SEVERAL hours, going through my new Keyword List, and reorganizing it into a hybrid.

Again, I wish I had started this from the beginning!

That being said, here are some things learned, so far…

Keywords not equal

Even though the Keyword list itself is nothing more than an ASCII text file, having a Word on a single line does NOT mean it (the Word) will be Counted correctly in Lightroom.

Each Keyword is supposed to be on a Single Line, but there is a big difference between a Word and a [Tab space] BEFORE the Word!

This gets into the heart of Categories, which is covered very well on photo-keywords.com in their Tutorial.

It does make sense, when you think about it, and thankfully Lightroom gives you a much easier way to move Keywords into the Categories.

Yes, you could do the SAME thing in the Text file, BUT if you are unsure of the meaning of the Word, you can not “see” that, but in Lightroom, you can call-up the images, and “see” the Keyword’s meaning, and Edit from there.

Time to Clean-Up

As you edit your keyword list, you will find ‘bad’ words, for what- ever reason, and here is a get chance to clean-up the list!

At some point, do open up your “working” version of your Keyword list in a Text Editor, and run a Spell Checker on the List.

Lightroom becomes sluggish

While moving Keywords around, I began to notice Lightroom becoming sluggish, and after several large Keyword ‘moves’, I realized Lightroom is re-writing meta-tag data back into the various files!

    1. You Create/Update a Keyword;
    2. The Keyword is Created/Updated in the Lightroom database;
    3. The metadata is rewritten into the file (xmp, psd/psb, tiff, jpg, etc.)

Needless to say, you are going to want to do these operations across fast hard drives, and if possible, have your main collection of images on a separate disk(s) from where Lightroom is installed, so there will be less of a bottle-neck in processing the keyword “move” requests.

Also, remember to back-up and Optimize your Lightroom catalog!

You will also want to back-up your original images too, since these keyword changes are also re-written into the various files: xmp, tiff, psd, psb, jpg, etc.

Procedures

If you are starting Fresh, download one of the various Keyword Lists that are available.

I started at Victoria Bampton’s (Lightroomqueen.com) – Keyword Lists / Controlled Vocabularies, and looked at each list, and then stared with Lightroom Keyword List Project – Foundation List.

If you are starting with an existing list, be prepared to spend some time on this project, but it will be worth it!

        • Backup your Original List, “as is”
        • Review the Keyword List Structure (Foundation List) you have Chosen in a Text Editor
        • Organize your Original List (and Backup)
        • Import the new Keyword List Structure into Lightroom
        • Reorganize and Edit

In just reorganizing my list, I have noticed numerous other Keywords that could easily describe a given image, which can only help during my workflow in publishing to the stock photography market!

As mentioned several times, I wish I had started this sooner!

I hope that you have picked up some new ideas with this post, and feel free to comment or ask questions!

- Andrew
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4th of July Adobe Announcements Chester County Downingtown Events Featured Holidays Information Location Long Exposure Photo Journal Photography Published Tech Talk Tips Tone Mapping

Fireworks time again!!

It is that time of the year again for fireworks!!

For those of you in Chester County PA area, here is a guide to local events that my friends of at County Line Magazine put together!

Where to Find Fireworks? (PDF)

My fellow photographer friend, Dan Potter, also put together a nice list of do’s and don’t when photographing fireworks!

I do take issue with his Bulb settings (#2) comment.

Looking back into my collection…

  • Canonet (circa late 1960s) – B on the Lens
  • AE-1 (circa early 1980s) –  B on the Dial
  • F-1 (circa mid 1980s) – B on the Dial
  • PowerShot A70 (circa early 2000s) – M on the Dial
  • PowerShot SX130 (circa early 2010s) – M on the Dial
  • Rebel XTi (circa 2007) – M on the Dial
  • Rebel T5i (circa 2014) – M on the Dial

What my data suggests, that you might be referring to an older analog film based camera, and if memory serves me correctly, Nikon did the SAME THING on their line during that time!

In both cases (Canon vs Nikon), it was the nature of analog film cameras to have the Speeds on the Upper Dial and the Aperture on the Lens itself.

These days, both are done via the various digital modes, one being (M)anual.

Dan also makes a good point to “know your location” and to be able to “adjust quickly”. (#4)

In the various years that I have photographed the Good Neighbor Fireworks, their launch area does seem to be a moving target from year to year!

In any case, enjoy the tips and have a GREAT 4th of July Weekend!!

- Andrew
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Playing with a 10.6+ GB File!

This morning, I started to “stitch” together a panoramic photo that I had taken the other day in Dowlin Forge Park, right here in Downingtown.

It is a series of (28) Canon RAW files (cr2) that were taken with a Canon T5i/700D, imported into Lightroom 5.3, and merged into a straightforward panorama image in Photoshop CS 6.

I knew this was going to be a large file from previous experience, but I have not tried yet to really push my new computer setup, so…

The actual merge of the (28) 16-bit files took about 3-4 minutes, which was A LOT better than last time, where I had to break-up the (42) files into groups of 10, merge them into one file, and repeat until all the files were merged.

Once the merged file was in Photoshop, with all 28 layers showing, my new machine was not even breathing too hard.  Even with Lightroom and several Chrome instances, I was still only pushing 85% physical RAM and the CPU spiked at 15%!

From there, I tried to “Save As” a Standard Adobe PSD, and got the standard error dialog, showing the 2GB file size limitation.

Nothing new there…

Then I tried a “Save As” as an Adobe TIFF file, and this time the computer took a great deal longer, 5+ minutes, before there was an error, and during that time, Photoshop created a 10.6+ GB file tmp!

10.6 GB Adobe TMP file
10.6 GB Adobe TMP file

To date, this is the single largest file that I have “Saved” in Photoshop!

Finally, I tried saving the file as a Standard Adobe PSB file, which is still a large file at 3.3+ GBs!

Main Adobe PSB file w/o Flatten
Main Adobe PSB file w/o Flatten

Time to Flatten some Layers!

With the Main PSB file open, I Flattened the Layers into 1, and did a “Save As” a PSB and then Re-Opened the Main PSB file, Flattened, and “Save As” again as TIFFs, and was very happy to see both files sizes were nearly identical at 638 MBs!

Comparison when Flattened
Comparison when Flattened

Conclusion

I conducted this test mostly out of personal curiosity and to see if files have remained consistent since the last time I did this experiment.

I expected the file size to go up, mainly because I was using 27-28 MB files created with the Canon T5i/700D vs 8-9 MB files with the Canon XTi.

If I were to estimate, the same 46 shoots done in 2011 could easily reach 6 GBs as a PSB file, and maybe create a 20-30 GB temp file at the same time.

Be sure that you have enough scratch disk space before you start.

It should be obvious that if you know a file is going to reach over 4 GBs, save it out as a PSB and go from there in the rest of your workflow.

The current maximum file file for an Adobe PSB is 4 exabytes – 300,000 x 300,000 pixels – 350 x 350 feet, which should keep you.

It is also nice to see that after Flattening, both PSB and TIFF files appear to be the same size.

Personally, I would keep the TIFF files, mostly because TIFF is NOT a proprietary file format, and in the future, if I want to move the file into another program, it will be easier.

Although I wrote my first post on PSB vs TIFF several years ago, I have yet to find out what IS all the Un-Saved data?

Duplicate “colors?” Non-Human readable code?

If you happen to know, please let me know.

I’m just very curious!

And finally, it should be noted, just like last time, the 2 PSB files do NOT show up in Lightroom, so you have to remember that they are there.

The TIFF file that was created, after Flattening all the Layers, DOES show up in Lightroom.

Adobe Bridge CS6 (5.0.2.4 x64) is able to show the Flattened PSB and TIFF, but NOT the larger Un-Flattened 3.3+ GB PSB file.

Hope you enjoyed my little file size observations.

If you have any questions or answers, please let me know!!

- Andrew
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SCRAP Photo Editor 1.2 Review

Kea Sigma Delta software logo
Kea Sigma Delta software

I was contacted by the nice folks at Kea Sigma Delta in Wellington, New Zealand, to do a review of their product SCRAP Photo Editor 1.2, which is currently only available on Windows XP, Vista, 7 & 8, and appears to be only a 32-bit application.

When I arrived on the site, keasigmadelta.co.nz , to download my free version of SCRAP Photo Editor 1.2, I am immediately told, that SCRAP is an acronym for Scale, Crop, Rotate and Publish, along with a very flashy 50 second YouTube video, extolling the virtues of the program.

Downloading the application is simple enough, but when I got to the point of Installation, I had to be especially careful, because of all the additional “Special Offers” that are included during the installation script.

When the First “Special Offer” window popped up, my security concerns were raised immediately, especially when the offer is for something called “SpeedyPC”. I do not wish to knock down this product, but it is not one that I normally run across. I did selected the Skip button to continue.

I was immediately confronted with the Second “Special Offer” for “blindbat”, again an application I’ve never heard of, that was even more forceful, in the sense, that it popped up a secondary window asking if I was sure that I wanted to skip the installation. Needless to say I declined.

Then there was the Third “Special Offer” (TidyNetwork) at which point I was seriously considering jettisoning the whole installation process, but I continued to the Fourth “Special Offer” (YAC (Yet Another Cleaner)), and finally into the main installation, which eventually launches your browser to a final “Congratulatory” page, thanking you for the installation.

Initial user experience – Very Poor

Once I was in the main program, I took a look at Task Manager and noticed that SCRAP had a small footprint of about 55 MB.

From there, I opened up a simple PNG file that I had recently done from the screenshot, to test out the basic capabilities of SCRAP.

Scale – In my current task, I did not need to do any scaling, but I did double-click on the scaling tool and was pleased to see an advanced set of tools presented in a simple dialog box.

Crop – Since cropping was the main nature of my task at hand, this tool was immediately put to use. I found it to work very similarly to those provided by other programs, but it was pleased to note, that after the cropping has been performed, the original image has not actually been cropped, i.e. non-destructive, until you save out the final file. A simple double-click of the crop tool, will also bring up the advanced dialog box, filled with numerous easy controls.

Rotate – I did not mean much use of the rotate tool during my testing, but the illustrations done in the video tutorials offer some very helpful tips on using the tool.

Publish – The most observable Publish tool, directs one to the Zazzle website, that offers photo based gifts, such as mugs and T-shirts. The Secondary publishing, is done by being able to saving various file formats (BMP/DIB/RLE, EXR, GIF, HDR, JPEG (2000), PBM, PGM, PNG, PPM, TARGA, TIFF), which still needs to be attached to a Posts or email, i.e. No Right Click and a Context menu pops-up to allow you to do whatever.

Conclusion –

After the initial irritation of the installation, SCRAP does what it sets out to do.

It can open up some 30 different file formats, perform very rudimentary geometric edits, and then quickly saves files back out, in a variety of formats, to be used by another application.

Will I keep this application on my computer after this review, very doubtfully.

Why?

I am already at Adobe software user, and I normally have either Lightroom or Photoshop open at any given time, so for me to have something like SCRAP, involved in my workflow, seems rather pointless.

If you need a quick utility to convert one file format to another and don’t have money to spend, then SCRAP may be of interest to you.

If you’re scanning software does not provide these fundamental functions, then definitely you should investigate further usage of this product.

I hope you enjoyed my review, or found it at least interesting, please feel free to leave me a comment in the section below.

- Andrew
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