Author Archive

Lightroom Editing Tutorial: How To Adjust Water Color in Underwater Photos

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016
In this tutorial, find out how to use the Hue, Saturation and Luminance (HSL) panel to adjust the color of water in your underwater photographs.

Adobe Lightroom Tutorial: How To Manage and Organize Your Images

Monday, March 28th, 2016

Wondering where to find your images in Adobe Lightroom? Understanding how Lightroom manages and displays information can help you stay organized.

Imaging: How To Take Your Photos To The Extreme In Post Production

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

TAKE IT TO 11

Why take your RAW adjustments to 11? Because it’s one louder than 10, as Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel so aptly put it. “Taking it to 11” refers to taking something to an extreme — I usually don’t recommend taking post-processing to an extreme, but there are times when a little extra juice from Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) really does the trick.

Maxing It Out

How to take your RAW photos to the max in post production

Erin Quigley

This image of schooling barracuda is way too blue. After white balancing in Lightroom or ACR, I’ve maxed out both the Temp (blue/yellow) and Tint (green/pink) sliders, but I still don’t have the effect that I really want.

I’d like to make the fish more neutral, without having to resort to any elaborate painting or masking.

It would be fab if I could push the White Balance sliders just a little bit beyond their limits — to 11, if you will.

By using a Smart Object workflow in Photoshop, I can.

What Is A Smart Object?

What is a Smart Object in Photoshop

A Smart Object is a Photoshop layer that packages selected image data and embeds it into a special container. This container maintains nondestructive editing capacities for whatever’s embedded inside. Although any layer or combination of layers can be transformed into a Smart Object, only Smart Objects coming straight from Lightroom or ACR will maintain actual RAW image data. In this case I’ll create a Smart Object that embeds the RAW file of the barracuda, along with the Lightroom Develop module adjustments that have already been made to the file.

To open a Smart Object from Lightroom, go to Photo>Edit In>Open as Smart Object in Photoshop.

To open a Smart Object from ACR, hold down the Shift key and click on the Open Object button at the bottom of the window.

A Smart Object can be identified by the small icon at the bottom right of its layer thumbnail. To re-edit the embedded RAW image from within the Smart Object, double-click on the Smart Object thumbnail, and ACR will open. Notice that the original Lightroom Develop module adjustments or initial ACR settings are maintained. By using a Smart Object workflow, you can access and re-edit these settings directly from Photoshop’s layers panel.

Turn It Up to 11 with a Camera RAW Smart Filter

How to use a camera RAW smart filter

To be able to re-edit RAW settings directly from a Photoshop layer is useful on its own, but the object is to go beyond the limits of the original ACR sliders. To do that, a Camera Raw Smart Filter is called for. To add a Camera Raw Smart Filter, go to Filter>Camera Raw Filter. A new ACR window will open automatically.

When I add a Camera Raw Smart Filter to the barracuda Smart Object, I get a clean new ACR window. Because the sliders in the new window start at zero, I can add more of whatever settings are maxed out in the original ACR adjustments.
By sliding the zeroed-out Temp slider to the right toward yellow, I get extra oomph from my white balance. The adjustment knocks back the remaining blue on the fish, and I’m much happier. I could not have achieved this white balance with an ordinary Lightroom or ACR adjustment. At this point, I can jiggle more sliders, brushes or filters on either the original Smart Object ACR settings or the Camera Raw Smart Filter to finish my editing.

Smart Filter Functions

Functions of a Smart Filter in Photoshop

  1. To toggle a Smart Filter’s visibility, click the eyeball next to it on and off.
  2. To reopen a Smart Filter, double-click on its name in the Layers panel.
  3. Smart Filters have their own layer mask. When the layer mask is active, painting on the image with black conceals the effect of the Smart Filter in the painted area. This makes every tool in ACR a potentially local tool.
  4. Smart Filters have a separate blending mode and opacity control accessed by clicking on the small lines-and-arrows icon at the bottom right of the layer.

Saving Smart Objects

When you create a Smart Object in Photoshop via Lightroom, saving the Photoshop document puts the layered Smart Object file into the same folder as the original file and amends the file name to reflect its Smart Object status. The next time you look at the image in Lightroom, you’ll see the Smart Object version right next to the original in the grid. When a Smart Object is created via Adobe Camera Raw, saving the Smart Object opens a Save As dialogue box, which lets you rename the file and save it to the location you wish.

Get Your Hands Dirty

The language of Smart Objects and Smart Filters can be confusing, but push past the mumbo-jumbo. Don’t be afraid to experiment. All the adjustments are completely nondestructive, and mastering this technique will pay off as an excellent addition to your post-production arsenal.


Erin Quigley is an Adobe ACE certified digital-imaging consultant and an award-winning shooter. GoAskErin.com provides custom tutorials and one-on-one instruction for the underwater photographic community.

Imaging: How To Take Your Photos To The Extreme In Post Production

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

TAKE IT TO 11

Why take your RAW adjustments to 11? Because it’s one louder than 10, as Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel so aptly put it. “Taking it to 11” refers to taking something to an extreme — I usually don’t recommend taking post-processing to an extreme, but there are times when a little extra juice from Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) really does the trick.

Maxing It Out

How to take your RAW photos to the max in post production

Erin Quigley

This image of schooling barracuda is way too blue. After white balancing in Lightroom or ACR, I’ve maxed out both the Temp (blue/yellow) and Tint (green/pink) sliders, but I still don’t have the effect that I really want.

I’d like to make the fish more neutral, without having to resort to any elaborate painting or masking.

It would be fab if I could push the White Balance sliders just a little bit beyond their limits — to 11, if you will.

By using a Smart Object workflow in Photoshop, I can.

What Is A Smart Object?

What is a Smart Object in Photoshop

A Smart Object is a Photoshop layer that packages selected image data and embeds it into a special container. This container maintains nondestructive editing capacities for whatever’s embedded inside. Although any layer or combination of layers can be transformed into a Smart Object, only Smart Objects coming straight from Lightroom or ACR will maintain actual RAW image data. In this case I’ll create a Smart Object that embeds the RAW file of the barracuda, along with the Lightroom Develop module adjustments that have already been made to the file.

To open a Smart Object from Lightroom, go to Photo>Edit In>Open as Smart Object in Photoshop.

To open a Smart Object from ACR, hold down the Shift key and click on the Open Object button at the bottom of the window.

A Smart Object can be identified by the small icon at the bottom right of its layer thumbnail. To re-edit the embedded RAW image from within the Smart Object, double-click on the Smart Object thumbnail, and ACR will open. Notice that the original Lightroom Develop module adjustments or initial ACR settings are maintained. By using a Smart Object workflow, you can access and re-edit these settings directly from Photoshop’s layers panel.

Turn It Up to 11 with a Camera RAW Smart Filter

How to use a camera RAW smart filter

To be able to re-edit RAW settings directly from a Photoshop layer is useful on its own, but the object is to go beyond the limits of the original ACR sliders. To do that, a Camera Raw Smart Filter is called for. To add a Camera Raw Smart Filter, go to Filter>Camera Raw Filter. A new ACR window will open automatically.

When I add a Camera Raw Smart Filter to the barracuda Smart Object, I get a clean new ACR window. Because the sliders in the new window start at zero, I can add more of whatever settings are maxed out in the original ACR adjustments.
By sliding the zeroed-out Temp slider to the right toward yellow, I get extra oomph from my white balance. The adjustment knocks back the remaining blue on the fish, and I’m much happier. I could not have achieved this white balance with an ordinary Lightroom or ACR adjustment. At this point, I can jiggle more sliders, brushes or filters on either the original Smart Object ACR settings or the Camera Raw Smart Filter to finish my editing.

Smart Filter Functions

Functions of a Smart Filter in Photoshop

  1. To toggle a Smart Filter’s visibility, click the eyeball next to it on and off.
  2. To reopen a Smart Filter, double-click on its name in the Layers panel.
  3. Smart Filters have their own layer mask. When the layer mask is active, painting on the image with black conceals the effect of the Smart Filter in the painted area. This makes every tool in ACR a potentially local tool.
  4. Smart Filters have a separate blending mode and opacity control accessed by clicking on the small lines-and-arrows icon at the bottom right of the layer.

Saving Smart Objects

When you create a Smart Object in Photoshop via Lightroom, saving the Photoshop document puts the layered Smart Object file into the same folder as the original file and amends the file name to reflect its Smart Object status. The next time you look at the image in Lightroom, you’ll see the Smart Object version right next to the original in the grid. When a Smart Object is created via Adobe Camera Raw, saving the Smart Object opens a Save As dialogue box, which lets you rename the file and save it to the location you wish.

Get Your Hands Dirty

The language of Smart Objects and Smart Filters can be confusing, but push past the mumbo-jumbo. Don’t be afraid to experiment. All the adjustments are completely nondestructive, and mastering this technique will pay off as an excellent addition to your post-production arsenal.


Erin Quigley is an Adobe ACE certified digital-imaging consultant and an award-winning shooter. GoAskErin.com provides custom tutorials and one-on-one instruction for the underwater photographic community.

Imaging: How To Flag Your Best Photos Using Adobe Lightroom

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

Not all photos are contest winners. Cut down on the underachievers in your image library by flagging keepers versus clunkers right of the bat as Lightroom imports them.

You only need to remember three letters on your keyboard: “P” for Flag, “X” for Reject and “U” for Unflag. Getting in the habit of making a quick first pass every time you import will keep your catalog lean and mean. You can get to work immediately after hitting the Import button. There’s no need to wait for the import to complete, or for previews to finish rendering.

KEEPERS, CLUNKERS OR CAN’T-DECIDES

Select an imported image and hit the space bar. You’ll be looking at a single image in Loupe view. Is it a keeper, a clunker or a can’t-decide?

Adobe Lightroom Tutorial: Flagging and Rejecting Photos

Erin Quigley

If it’s a keeper, press the “P” key to flag the image as a pick. A small white flag appears in the tool bar, and also in the upper-left corner of the image thumbnail in Grid view.

If it’s a clunker, press the “X” key to set the image as rejected. This time you’ll see a small black flag, and the Grid view thumbnail will be grayed out. Note that hitting “X” does not delete the image but simply marks it as rejected.

If you can’t decide whether the image is a keeper or a clunker, skip it and use the right arrow key on your keyboard to advance to the next image. If you change your mind about an image that you’ve already flagged, hit the “U” key to unflag it.

DITCH THE DUDS

Once you’ve made it through the entire import, do away with the duds. Either go to Photo>Delete Rejected Photos in the top Library menu or use the keyboard shortcut Command-Delete (Mac), or Control-Delete (PC) to gather the rejected images together for deletion.

Adobe Lightroom Tutorial: Deleting Rejected Photos

Erin Quigley

In the Delete Rejected Photos dialogue box, make sure to choose Delete from Disk, and not the default choice, Remove. If you choose Remove, the images will be removed from the Lightroom catalog but will remain on your drive, cluttering up your library and lying in wait to cause chaos and confusion later on.

COMPARE AND SURVEY

When you have to decide between very similar images or pick the best from a series, Lightroom’s Compare and Survey views are there to help. Compare view shows you two images side by side; Survey view tiles multiple images on a single screen.

Adobe Lightroom Tutorial: How To Compare And Survey Photos

Erin Quigley

To use Compare view, select two or more images and click the Compare view icon. The keyboard shortcut is “C.”

By default, the left preview is Select and the right is Candidate. Click on an image to activate it. You’ll see a narrow, white frame around the active image.

The Select preview is fixed; the Candidate preview can be changed for comparison with Select. Clicking the right or left arrow replaces the Candidate with the next image in the folder in the direction of the arrow, allowing you to see if there’s a better Select. If you find one, click on the Make Select or Swap icon, then continue the process until you’ve found the best Select.

To zoom in on both previews simultaneously, make sure the lock icon on the tool bar is closed and slide the Zoom slider right next to it. Unlocking the lock icon lets you zoom in on only the active preview. Pressing the Sync button matches the zoom on both previews. I use this all the time to compare eye sharpness.

To use Survey view, select a group of photos. Click the Survey View icon or use the keyboard shortcut “N.”

Click on an image to select it in the Survey window. Roll the cursor over it to reveal flagging and other rating options. Clicking the “X” in the bottom-right corner of the preview removes a photo from the group but doesn’t flag it or delete it from Lightroom, so make sure to flag rejects before removing them. Eliminate photos one by one until you’ve narrowed them down to just the best.

Erin Quigley is an Adobe ACE certified digital-imaging consultant and an award-winning shooter. GoAskErin.com provides custom tutorials and one-on-one instruction for the underwater photographic community.