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My Favorite Features of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC

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Adobe has brought some of the best features of Aperture and Photoshop to Lightroom CC. John Batdorff shares some of his favorite features of Lightroom CC, including face tagging, HDR merge, and red eye improvements.
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Adobe’s Lightroom has been available to photographers for nearly a decade and has grown to become the de facto post processing software program for both amateurs and professionals. This has never been truer since Apple’s discontinuation of Aperture; now those users are flooding to the Adobe platform. I think it’s safe to say that Adobe can ring the bell and raise its hands as the market leader in post processing for photography.

Now Adobe has brought some of the best features of Aperture and Photoshop to Lightroom CC. It seems the only remaining debate is between Lightroom CC and Photoshop, and with these new additions to Lightroom CC, I predict that photographers will find fewer reasons to leave Lightroom to edit in Photoshop. While the updates go far beyond what I’m going to discuss here, I’d like to share a few of my favorites and how I’ll integrate them into my workflow.

Face Tagging

New to this version is the ability to tag faces and index people by name using Lightroom’s facial recognition algorithm. At first I questioned whether I would truly use this feature that was so popular among Aperture users. But as I’ve used it more, I’ve really grown to love it.  While I’ve always been very diligent with using keywords and collections for organizing images of people, Face Tagging takes this ability to the next level by simplifying the process with a few clicks.

As a father, I can see this being very handy when I want to sort images of my daughter for her high school graduation slideshow. As a professional, while I obviously can remember my daughter’s name and use it to search my keywords, it’s another thing to remember the name of a client whom I photographed years ago. I see Face Tagging as another great tool for helping me organize and retrieve images of people simply based on my ability to remember a face.

Keep in mind, the algorithm’s ability to successfully and automatically tag people is improved as you build upon your face recognition database, so it’s usefulness to you will somewhat depend on your input into the system. There will be many cases when you’ll want to manually tag a person by selecting the Draw Face tool and enter a person’s name.

Notes on Face Tagging

This feature is turned off by default, but once you enter the “People” view for the first time you’ll be prompted to turn the feature on.

Quick Keys to Remember

(O) To Turn on People View

Photoshop Meets Lightroom!

I’ve been waiting for years for Adobe to incorporate High Dynamic Range (HDR) and Panoramic features in Lightroom. They didn’t disappoint in this version with the addition of Photo Merge, which offers the ability to merge multiple images into an HDR or Panoramic image without ever leaving Lightroom.

HDR Merge

HDR Merge allows you to select a set of bracketed images, then merge them into a single HDR image. You can choose to use the HDR Merge Preview dialog box to set Auto Alignment, Auto Tone, and the Deghosting strength.

I went out in my neighborhood to grab a few bracketed shots to give this a try, and I’m highly satisfied with my results. For those of you looking for a very natural appearing HDR image that is better than what you can achieve with normal processing, you will love this tool. It saves that extra step of editing in a plugin or with Photoshop, and the results are excellent. I tried to process a properly exposed image to see if I could get there without HDR, and there’s no question that the HDR version was better. The best part is that I doubt most viewers would ever know that it was a multiple exposure image, which is my standard for a high quality HDR. 

Pano Merge

Just like HDR merge, Pano Merge allows you to select several images to merge into panoramic. The Panorama Merge Preview dialog box will provide options for merging the frames similar to the Photoshop merge options.

I rarely shoot panos, but for this demo I gathered up my father-in-law and Staci on a frigid evening and went out to the planetarium to shoot the Chicago Skyline. It was about 4 below, and I wasn’t super popular with my team that night, but I wanted the steam coming off the buildings and the frozen lake, so we went for it. There are a few things I’d do differently in camera next time, but Lightroom did a great job stitching the images together, and the Auto Crop tool worked really well. As you can see, it still required some manual straightening on my behalf, but the process was seamless. Since I’m now able to do this right at home in Lightroom, I have a feeling I’ll be experimenting with more panos.

Notes on Photo Merge

Lightroom needs some basic metadata so that it can verify that you’re not merging photos using different focal lengths or sizes. If it identifies a problem during the merge, it will then prompt you with an error message to that effect.

Quick Keys to Remember

HDR Merge — Control+H
Pano Merge — Control +M

Radial Filter Gets Some Love

Without a doubt my favorite addition to Lightroom 5 was the Radial Filter. It allowed me to edit more quickly and precisely without being dependent upon the brush tool, which could prove tedious at times. But the problem with the Radial Filter is it’s an all-or-nothing adjustment, meaning the effects can only be applied to either everything outside the filter, or as an inverted mask which affects only the inside of the filter. Feathering allows me some control of this, but now in Lightroom CC I have the ability to add a brush to my Radial Filter. This allows me to brush on additional Radial effects or to remove the effects without leaving the tool. Additionally, Adobe added the mask overlay feature to the Radial Filter, so we now can clearly see the area that’s being affected.  As a side note, the Graduated Filter has also been updated with the ability to use the Brush Tool as well as the Mask Overlay feature.

In this example I used a Radial Filter to lighten the area around the model’s face.  I didn’t want her dark hair to lighten any further, however, so I was able to add an erase brush and remove the effect from her hair. 

Quick Keys to Remember

Radial Filter (Shift+M)
Mask Overlay (O)

Red Eye Improvements

Pet lovers: Your voices have been heard! Finally there’s an option to transform Fido’s demonic glowing eyes back into sweet puppy eyes using Pet Eye correction.  Similar to Red Eye correction, Pet Eye correction will correct the discoloration caused by flash, which sometimes leads to a bright yellow, red, or green glow in the eyes of animals. We all know to try and avoid using flash up close to prevent it, but sometimes you just have to capture those cute moments, demon eyes or not. Now you can re-up the cuteness factor and even add a catch light back to their eyes once you’ve removed the scary glow. 

A Rockin’ Slideshow

The Slideshow module has seen a few improvements, but my favorite new feature is the ability to automatically sync slide transitions to your music by simply checking a box. For those of you who pay for services like Animoto, this might very well be a less expensive alternative.

You’ll also be able to add more tracks to your slideshow, pan and zoom, and choose an aspect ratio for the final product. I love a good slideshow, so I have a feeling I’ll be using Face Tagging to quickly find some familiar faces, and then dropping those into a fun slideshow put to my favorite tunes.

Web Galleries

Admittedly I rarely use the Web Module, for the most part because it’s been outdated for some time. However, Adobe has totally overhauled the architecture, removing  the flash galleries and replacing them with mobile friendly HTML 5 Galleries. This is important because mobile web browsing is on the rise, and the necessity for mobile friendly galleries is essential for anyone looking to have their work seen on the web.

Improvements and Compatibility

Lightroom CC is faster than version 5, but those enhancements come with heightened minimum systems requirements, including 64-bit processing, Mac OS 10.9 and higher, and Windows 7 and higher. Moreover, Lightroom now uses your Graphic Processing Unit (GPU) to speed up image editing, so make sure you’re using the latest graphic driver to help ensure the best performance.

All That and So Much More

Needless to say, I’m really pleased with all of the updates Adobe has made to Lightroom CC. The major updates are Face Tagging, and Photo Merge, but all the small updates shouldn’t be overlooked. While I could only share a few of my favorites here, I’m excited to continue working with and teaching the many other features including the Activity Center, Keyword Painter, new catalog backup compression, updates to the Map Module, and more.  If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment here and I’ll do my best to answer it.

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