Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lightroom: Maps Module Part 2

Post 31
Series: Introduction to Adobe Lightroom®

You have decided that you want GPS coordinates attached to your images. You open your images, look at the metadata and discover the box by GPS is empty. Now what?

Land of the Dead
Image taken in Punta Sur, Cozumel

Adding GPS Data to an Image

Long after the photos are taken, you sit at your computer and wonder where to begin. There are a couple different ways to find and attach GPS coordinates to your image. Make sure the image is selected.

Google It

In your web browser, look up the address or location where the picture was taken. When you find the coordinates, copy and paste them in the GPS box, and hit enter.

Now go to the Maps Module. A yellow tag is on the map of the coordinates you entered.

Another Option

Instead of doing an internet search, go straight to the Maps Module. Type in the exact address in the top right search bar and a tag will show up on the map in a zoomed-in preview.

If you right click on the tag, you can choose Zoom In, Add GPS Coordinates to Selected Photos or Delete GPS Coordinates.

Simply click on the tag and a thumbnail of your image will show up, connected to that location.

It's a Breeze

Even easier, in the maps module, click and drag any image or group of selected images from the Filmstrip to the point on the map where they were taken. The GPS coordinates are automatically set.


Let’s Dive In…

We got our toes wet. There are many more things you can do in the Maps Module. Next time we will show you what they are and how they help you expand the possibilities with your photography.

Next Post: Lightroom: Maps Module Part 3

These posts are part of a series: Introduction to Adobe Lightroom®

Jennifer Apffel is a photographer with over a decade of experience in portrait, event, and product photography. She also does freelance graphic design and fine art. For more check out, or look for her on


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Seeing the Light-Part 4

I'd like to spend some time on "non natural" natural light sources today.  What does that mean?  Well, what to do when the sun is no longer available?  I try not to use my flash much so I have tried to find some lighting sources to use in the dark that are already available.  So they are not technically "natural" but they are also not my flash.  Does that make sense?  No?  Okay, let's look at some examples of what I'm talking about.  And just FYI, I converted these images to black and white and added a pulled back shot to show the light source.  Nothing else was done to enhance the images.

If your children are anything like mine there are going to be light sources all over your house at night. Tablets, video games, book lights, get the picture.   They are connected to so many light sources all of the time.  Why not use them to capture your children doing one of their favorite things?  Whether it's reading in bed or playing on your phone, there are opportunities to snap lovely photos.

Another light source I love at night is window light.  This is kind of the opposite of daytime window light.  At night the lights are on IN the house and you need to be outside of the window.  I love the fun look you get with the window light from the side.  Play around one evening with this one.  The kids will love being up late and you can experiment with something new.  My kids are a little weary of all the pictures I take of them so new is always a good thing.

Some other common nighttime light sources are streetlights, cell phone flashlight apps, car headlights, spotlights... really the possibilities are endless.  I would love to hear some of your experiences with unusual light sources.  Please share in the comments.  And keep having fun with seeing the light!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Seeing The Light-Part 3

It's time to take it outside now.  When you are discussing natural light it seems the obvious place to be.  But just like the window light we talked about last week, there are so many different ways to use the biggest light source ever! 

Front light:  In order to get front light outside you need to be out there early in the morning or late in the afternoon.  You want the sun to be low so that it bathes the face of your subject evenly.  It will also allow you to capture more color and detail in your background.

Side light:  Placing the light on the side of your subject allows you to be out when the sun is higher and brighter.  You can have your subject looking away to eliminate squinting and shadows on the face.  You can also get a lovely glow on the parts of the subject you want to highlight.

Full sun:  There is no reason to fear full sun.  There are times it will be exactly what you want.  It can be vibrant and colorful and wonderful.  You don't want your subject looking directly into the light of course.  Expose for your subjects face and let the background be bright and happy.

 Back light:  Again, one of my favorites.  I love to use the sun creatively.  Let it be a subject itself like in the following maternity portrait.

Or use it to create an angelic glow, or a hazy, softly lit background. 

There are so many possibilities.  The best way to figure out your favorites is to get out there and take a ton of pictures!  Make some mistakes.  Try some crazy things and see what works.  Have fun.  Get out there and see the light!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lightroom: Maps Module

Post 30
Series: Introduction to Adobe Lightroom®

Location, Location, Location

Did you know that GPS coordinates are embedded in your photos’ metadata? Well, many cameras  already have this location information set to be built into each image. I imagine eventually all cameras will. Since we are in an age of technology transition, if your camera doesn’t automatically record the image location, you can add it here in the Lightroom Maps Module.

But Why?

How could a location attached to my images be helpful to me? Here are a few reasons to answer that question. Do you have many images and need a way to sort them? You can sort and browse your images in Lightroom by location. Do your images have more meaning because they are attached to a particular location? If you sell your photography in any way, attaching that location can make your images more important and useful to your clients. Take a peek at location images on Pinterest. Not only are they beautiful to look at, their associated location is intriguing and travel-inspiring.

Yes, Please.

So you’ve decided the GPS data is something you want to associate with your images. Where in Lightroom do we start?

Internet Critical

First, make sure you have an internet connection. The Maps Module is not very helpful if you can’t link to Google Maps through Lightroom.

Ahhhhh, Alaska
This image was taken at Knik Glacier in Alaska.

Open an image in Lightroom. While you are still in the Library Module, look over on the right under Metadata. (Click the arrow to the right to open.) If you’d like a refresher on Metadata, our previous blog post is here:

This is a good time to add metadata if you haven’t. As you scroll down, your very last point of metadata is GPS. Is the box full or empty?

If it’s full (and you haven’t entered this info manually before) your camera is recording GPS info for you. Clicking on the arrow to the right of the GPS box will take you directly to a map and pin in the Maps Module. How nice!

You can fill in more complete metadata on your image in the Maps Module (on the righthand side).

Back in the Library Module, if the GPS space is empty, you get to fill it in. Where? How, you ask? More in the next post.

Next Post: Lightroom: Maps Module Part 2

These posts are part of a series: Introduction to Adobe Lightroom®

Jennifer Apffel is a photographer with over a decade of experience in portrait, event, and product photography. She also does freelance graphic design and fine art. For more check out, or look for her on

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Seeing The Light-Part 2

How obsessive have you been this week about the light around you?  Hopefully you have been paying attention both indoors and outdoors.  Today we'll be discussing creative lighting for indoor photos.  This post is perfect for those of you who love to take pics of your children doing what they do in their rooms, playroom, dining room, get the idea.

Here are my favorite indoor light sources: Okay honestly, I have one favorite indoor light source.  But there are so many options for that one light source!  So, what is it?

Window light.  This may seem obvious but there is so much you can do with one good window.  

For example:

Front light:  Set your subject right smack in front of the window and have them look outside.  This will give you very even light with no shadows on any part of the face.  It'll also give you great catch lights in the eyes.

Side light:  With your subject sideways to the light you will get some shadowing on one side.  This creates depth dimension and gives you a completely different look verses front lighting.

Small disadvantage to side lighting is that you can lose the catch lights in the eyes.  To fix this have your subject turn slightly more towards the window.  Or just embrace the depth of the eyes created by the shadow.  This girly of mine has the darkest brown eyes you've ever seen so I love this photo with out the catch lights.

Back light:  I am in love with back lighting.  It's makes your subject glow and gives an ethereal, almost fairy woodland feel.  To make it work for you just make sure you expose or the subject's face.  You don't want to lose the detail and it's better to have the background overexposed in this case.  That's the look you are going for after all.

Yummy!  Look at that delicious light!  Now go have fun in your own house.  Study the windows in your home and which ones are best at different times of day.  And enjoy the fabulous photos you're going to be taking of your children!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lightroom & Camera Calibration

Post 29

Series: Introduction to Adobe Lightroom®

When you take a picture with your DSLR camera, the computer inside your camera applies its processes in regards to color, light, vivid-ness, white balance, detail, contrast etc. Each make of camera (Canon, Nikon, Sigma, Sony, etc.) applies its process and interpretation to the jpeg image in its own way. When you shoot in RAW, you decide these settings before you take the picture. Whether you have a jpeg or a RAW image, you may still want to adjust these calibration settings. Lightroom lets you do this in Camera Calibration.

After opening your image in Lightroom, you may decide to change these automatic or previously selected settings from your camera to achieve a different look for your image. Go to the Develop module, and down at the bottom open Camera Calibration. This is what you will see:


Click on Embedded next to Profile. Test out each option to see the change and variation.  The profiles that show up will be specific to your type of camera. (Keep in mind that Lightroom does not have profiles for all camera makes.) These choices show up for me: Adobe Standard, Camera Landscape, Camera Neutral, Camera Portrait, Camera Standard, and Camera Vivid. Test them all out to see how each changes your image.

Once you have the profile you want, fine tune your image even further with the sliders below Profile.


Lightroom / Develop Module / Camera Calibration

Change the tint in the Shadows. (Note: This image has very dark shadows, so the changes do not show up very well in this video.) Change the Hue and Saturation in your Red Primary, Green Primary and Blue Primary sections.

Oh the possibilities in Lightroom! I kinda like this. (Okay, I like it a LOT.)

Next Post: The Lightroom Map Module

These posts are part of a series: Introduction to Adobe Lightroom®

Jennifer Apffel is a photographer with over a decade of experience in portrait, event, and product photography. She also does freelance graphic design and fine art. For more check out, or look for her on

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Seeing The Light-Part 1

Have you ever looked up the definition of the word photography?  Have you ever stopped to think about what it means?

From Mirriam-Webster:

Photography: noun
:  the art or process of producing images by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface (as film or an optical sensor) 

From Concise Encyclopedia:

Photography: noun
:  method of recording permanent images by the action of light projected by a lens in a camera onto a film or other light-sensitive material.

The word itself comes from the Greek root photos, meaning "light" and graphe, meaning "to draw".  So together the word "photography" means "to draw with light".  Cool!

 It's all about the light folks.  And there are so many ways to use light in photography that I could never hope to cover them all.  And I mean, please.  I don't even know most of them!  I would like to take a few posts to cover the basics of natural lighting, with a few ideas for using non-natural light sources that are found all around us.  A few you may never have thought of using in your photographs that will surprise (and hopefully delight) you.  

In the meantime start watching the light around you.  There is no bad light out there.  You just need to think about how to use the different kinds of light you see throughout the day.  Notice the feelings you have at different times of the day.  Observe what the light does to the landscape as it changes from morning to high noon to the golden hour just before sunset.  What colors do you see?  Whether you photograph landscapes, or people, the basics of light will apply.  Become obsessed with watching the light and shadows all around.  Start taking photographs of the same subjects at different times of day.  All of this observation will help as we explore ways to use the light to get the photographs you want.

 Get out there and see the light!


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Lightroom: Using Grain in Your Images

Post 28

Series: Introduction to Adobe Lightroom®

Looking for that little something to distinguish your images? Adding Grain could be the perfect thing.

Against the Grain

The tool Grain provides texture to your image. Add a little or a lot with Amount, change the Size of the grain to small or large. Move the Roughness slider to get to that sweet spot for exactly what you are looking for.

Lightroom / Develop Module / Effects / Grain Tool

Next Post: Lightroom & Camera Calibration

These posts are part of a series: Introduction to Adobe Lightroom®

Jennifer Apffel is a photographer with over a decade of experience in portrait, event, and product photography. She also does freelance graphic design and fine art. For more check out, or look for her on

Friday, June 27, 2014

Photoshop Tips: How Big Can I Print?

Last Week – Follow Up

Last week I discussed aspect ratios when printing and I said that you should pretty much always expect to crop at least a little when printing.  Someone asked about doing custom print sizes.  If you find a printer that will do custom print sizes then that would eliminate the need to crop your photo.  However, if you are framing the photo, you would need to have a custom frame ordered as well.  This can get pretty expensive, but possible.  This brings to mind printing on canvas, which eliminates the need for a frame.  Most canvas printers have standard sizes/ratios that you have to crop to.  However, you can find some canvas printers out there that can do custom sizes.

How Large?

The other main question folks have when printing is how large can they print.  The answer to this question does not have a definitive answer.  Much depends on personal preference when it comes to sharpness.  You lose sharpness (resolution) the larger you blow an image up to print.  Two things to keep in mind are:

  • The dimensions of your digital image
  • PPI (pixels per inch, or resolution)

Image Dimensions

Each camera will have different image dimensions depending on the number of megapixels, etc.  My Canon 6D shoots at 5472 x 3648 pixels.  Based on last week’s discussion, if I want to prepare an image for an 8x10 print, I’ll need to crop my photo.  Cropping obviously reduces the dimensions of my photo.  The more I crop a photo, the more blurry it will look when I blow it up super large.


In very simple terms, this is the amount of clarity or sharpness your photo has.  Photographers vary on what they say is the minimum amount of resolution you need when printing.  Some say you need as high as 300 ppi (pixels per inch).  Others say that they print no higher than 240 ppi and often go lower than that.  Really, the resolution you want will depend on what the print is for.  If it’s for a huge billboard, people are going to be pretty far away from it so you can get away with a lower ppi.  If people are going to be inspecting the print up close and personal, then you might want 240 ppi.  I would say that a good rule of thumb is to be somewhere around 200 ppi.

The Bottom Line

If you know your image dimensions and the minimum resolution that you are willing to tolerate, then it’s just a matter of math from there.  Take my picture (uncropped) at 5472 x 3648 pixels.  Say I am willing to go with a 200 ppi resolution.  Then I just divide my picture dimensions by 200. 

5472 / 200 = 27.36
3648 / 200 = 18.24

In other words, I could print my photo at a size of about 18x27 inches.  As that is not a standard print size, I would want to crop my photo first to the desired ratio, and then recalculate.

Phtoshop and Lightroom can help you do these calculations.  Below is a picture that I have cropped to a 4x5 ratio.  Its dimensions are 4194 x 3355 pixels (just trust me that it is 4x5).  At a 4x5 ratio, the standard sizes that I can print are 8x10, 16x20, and 24x30.  So how large can I print this without losing too much resolution? 

I’m using Photoshop Elements, but this is similar for Lightroom and other programs.  Under the “Image” tab on the top menu, I go to “Resize” and then “Image Size”

As you can see from the picture above, if I print an 8x10, the resolution will be 419.4 ppi.  This is way higher than the 200 ppi rule of thumb that I discussed earlier.  We can go bigger! 

So I just type in a 20 where the 10 inch width is and everything else recalculates automatically for me.  It says that a 16x20 inch print has a ppi of 209.7.  Right in the sweet spot. 

I was printing this on a canvas for a customer and I knew that 16x20 was going to be too small.  I really wanted to go at least 24x30 inches.  Again, changing the width to 30, everything else calculates (see below):

At 24x30, the resolution is now only 139.8 ppi.  I was worried that the resolution would be too low, but knowing that size was an important factor, I decided to print the 24x30 anyway and inspect for quality before delivering to the customer.  When the print arrived, the resolution quality looked great to me especially knowing that the print would not be viewed up close with a magnifying glass.  Success!

If you would like to see a short video tutorial on this topic, Scott Kelby has a great 2 minute summary:

Wrap Up

In summary, while there is no definite answer on how large you can print something, hopefully this discussion has helped you understand the relationship between the dimensions of your image and the resolution.  Knowing a rough rule of thumb for your target resolution (remember the 200 ppi general target) you should be able to make an informed decision on how big you can print.

Next week we’ll discuss some more useful editing tricks in Photoshop Elements that might make your life a little easier.

Do you have any success or horror stories?  Feel free to post your comments and questions to this post and I’ll be happy to discuss them.  Happy shooting!

Bryan Rasmussen owns Chiseled Light Photography and is also a freelance photographer for a local newspaper.  Follow him at  He is also on Instagram, Flickr, and Fine Art America.