Add Some Vibrance to Your Shots

Take a quick test. Walk outside on a bright and sunny day and look at the sky and the trees. Now put on a pair of sunglasses and look again. Notice how much more “vibrant” everything looks? Notice how the sky is a deeper, richer blue and the leaves on the trees are a softer and more earthy green?

This is “vibrance” and it’s your minds perception of colors and textures in the absence of glare. Glare is a harsh, white reflected light that overpowers the colors and textures in a scene and it’s pure death for a landscape photographer. That’s why most landscape images are taken during the early morning or late afternoon hours, when the sun is low in the sky and the harsh reflections are at a minimum. Glare is why we buy sunglasses and why we use polarizing filters on our lenses.

Adding Vibrance in Lightroom

Adding Vibrance in Lightroom

Vibrance is what landscape photographers strive to capture in their images. It’s that very subtle combination of color and tone that makes a landscape image compelling. Unfortunately, most raw file formats seem to lack vibrance and it’s up to the photographer to add this key ingredient back during post capture processing.

Luckily, this is very simple using the Presence controls in Adobe Lightroom. Making this even easier is the Punch preset which increases the Clarity and Vibrance but leaves the Saturation unchanged, which is vital to creating an image that is vibrant without being over-saturated.

Guadalupe River Canyon

Guadalupe River Canyon, Texas
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II set on aperture priority (Av) using an EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens tripod-mounted. The exposure was taken at 28mm, f/16 for 1/8th of a second using a Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer at ISO 100 on Lexar Professional digital film. Post capture processing was done in Adobe’s Lightroom 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Lightroom 2 Poster Template Tutorial

I received an email last week from a photographer in Michigan who was curious how I added the white border and text to my prints (posters actually). There are many ways to do this in Photoshop (and Scott Kelby’s books detail most of these methods) but I prefer to let Lightroom 2 handle the heavy lifting most of the time.

Enchanted Rock, Texas 20 x 16 Poster

The first step in creating this type of Print Template is to setup a custom Page Size in Lightroom 2 such as the 20″ x 16″ page shown above. I chose 20″ x 16″ since its a common frame size available and the white borders used result in a very viewable 17″ x 11″ image size.

Once you’ve set your page size you’ll need to change the Image Settings as shown below to add a medium gray Stroke Border around your image giving it the appearance of being matted.

Lightroom Print Layout Settings

Lightroom Image Settings & Layout

To create a poster Layout, you’ll need to change the Margins to add the white border and set the Page Grid to 1 row and 1 column. This should result in a Cell Size exactly 17″ wide and 11″ high.

I use Lightroom 2’s Overlay settings to add a custom Identity Plate to the white border below the image as shown below.

Lightroom's Overlay Settings

Lightroom's Overlay Settings

This is where things can get a little sticky so I’ve created three custom Identity Plate templates including a one-line, two-line and three-line version to add and modify as needed.

Lightroom's Identity Plate

Centering Lightroom's Identity Plate

Centering the Identity Plate in the bottom white border can be a little tricky in Lightroom 2 and this feature has been improved only slightly in the Lightroom 3 beta.

The best way I’ve found to do this is enlarge it to 100% and then center it with the edges of your image, moving it up and down, little by little until it looks about right. Then reduce to to somewhere between 60% – 75% until the text is smaller than the image width as shown above.

Editing an Identity Plate

Editing an Identity Plate

A few tricks to make this look really nice:

  • Use an all-caps font like Trajan Pro for a really elegant look.
  • Add a blank space between each letter in a word and three blank spaces between each word.
  • Create a multi-line identity plate by adding pressing Option+Return to start a new line.
  • Use different font sizes for different parts of the identity plate.

Once you’ve finished this you can save this as a Print Template to use again and again.

Shooting Tethered with the Canon 50D and Lightroom

One of the best things about working in a studio is the ability to shoot tethered from your DSLR to your computer running Adobe Lightroom. The is especially nice for Canon shooters since all the software you need is included with your camera for FREE!

I guess this almost makes up for (NOT) Canon’s lack of a cost effective GPS solution like Nikon’s GP-1 unit recently covered in a great little post by Jeff Revell. Yes Jeff, Canon shooters are green with envy over this one!

Tethered shooting from the EOS 50D to Lightroom is fairly straight-forward but there are a few tricks to getting things configured correctly. First you start the EOS Utility and set your Preferences as shown below.

EOS Utility

I recommend checking “Auto power off” in the  “Basic Settings” preferences to save your camera batteries. Shooting in a studio using small strobes tends to take a lot longer and you’ll go through camera batteries fairly quickly if you don’t use AC power.

Basic Settings

You can choose a destination folder anywhere on your MacBook but I like to store all images in my “Pictures” folder. One important thing to note is that THIS FOLDER MUST BE COMPLETELY EMPTY (no sub-folders or files) and I’ll explain why later in this article, so keep reading.

NO SUB-FOLDERS (sorry for yelling but it took me almost an hour to figure this out on my own).

Destination Folder

Its also important that your file naming scheme doe not duplicate any file names previously used or Lightroom won’t import these files automatically. Another little issue that took a lot of time to track down.

I use a specific file naming scheme for my work as shown below:

IMG – Image prefix
50D – Camera Model
T – Tethered
000x – File sequence

File Naming

And because I’m completely paranoid about losing my work I also write the image files to the compact flash card in the camera. Not strictly necessary but a good studio habit to adopt.

Write Files to Compact Flash

Believe it or not, you really need to set the “Linked Software” preference to “None” for this whole system to work correctly with Lightroom.

Linked Software

To complete this process, just click on the “OK” button to save your preferences and return to the EOS Utility’s main menu.

Now all you need to do is set a few options in Lightroom 2 and you’re ready to begin shooting. Go ahead and start up Lightroom and click on the “Auto Import Settings” menu. Set the “Watched Folder” by clicking on the “Choose…” button and navigating to the “Destination Folder” location you set in the EOS Utility’s preferences.

If this folder is completely empty (as it should be if you read my rant above) then everything will be fine. If not, a nasty little dialog box will pop up telling you the folder must be empty (see, I told you so).

Go ahead and select a “Destination”, a “File Naming” scheme and other “Information” settings and click “OK” to save these Lightroom settings.

Lightroom's Auto Import Preferences

To enable the watched folder all you need to do is select “Auto Import” from the File menu and then select “Enable Auto Import”. Nothing could be simpler, right?

Lightroom's Auto Import

Now, with Lightroom active, select “Camera Settings / Remote Shooting” from the EOS Utility’s main menu.

EOS Utility

And up pops the Camera Control window where you will spend the next several hours, days or weeks happily shooting with your EOS 50D tethered to Lightroom. The really cool thing about this is that the remote shooting controls are so easy to use you could actually “drive” your entire studio session from here. The remote controls are the real thing and you can change almost every camera setting remotely. If you’re doing still life or product photography, the only time you’ll need to look through the viewfinder is to check focus and composition.


Camera Control

So what’s the big advantage to shooting tethered? Well, it sure beats looking at the camera’s 3″ LCD.

BTW – This can also be done wirelessly using Canon’s $800 WFT-E3A Wireless File Transmitter. Now if I could only get my daughters to buy me one for Fathers Day!

My Desktop


Thursday News – Nik’s Viveza Compatible with Lightroom

VivezaNik Software announced Tuesday that Viveza, their popular digital photographic plug-in filter is now available for Lightroom 2 and that the update is free to current owners of Viveza.

Viveza installs as a plug-in filter for Lightroom 2 and is accessible from the Photo>Edit In… menu. Edits made using the plug-in within Lightroom are non-destructive in nature, and are applied automatically to a newly generated TIFF and not the original RAW file.

Nik Software also said that they plan to make all their popular Photoshop plug-ins including Color Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro compatible with Lightroom later this year. Good news for those of us using these wonderful plug-ins!

Software Review – Acqualia’s Picturesque

Acqualia's PicturesqueI use Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom 2 for much of my RAW and JPEG post-capture workflow as do most of the photographers that I know. It does so many things so much better than Camera Raw/Bridge/Photoshop that I can’t imagine life without it. My only complaint about Lightroom is it’s export functionality, especially for images that I plan to post on my blog.

This is where Acqualia’s Picturesque software really shines. This little gem allows me to add a number of special effects to my blog images such as borders and shadows or even reflections. It integrates very well with Lightroom and can be used in an Export preset by setting the “Post-Processing” property to “Open in Other Application” and choosing “\Applications\Picturesque”.

As you can see in the image below, Picturesque’s user interface is very clean and simple to learn. It takes only a few clicks to create a nice border and shadow around the images I plan to post. You can even save your settings as a preset and batch process your image files automatically.

Acqualia's Picturesque

Picturesque is a great little Mac program written by Acqualia, a great little software company and it would make a great little present for the photo-bloggers on your Christmas list!

Bird Photography – Getting Ready to Print in Lightroom

One of the final steps in my Lightroom RAW workflow is to take the best overall “selects” from a shoot and prepare them to be printed by The easiest way to accomplish this is by creating a print template which includes all the layout information as well as all the print job information (as shown in the three screen captures below). Then you just select the image you want to print in the Filmstrip panel and you’re ready to “print” your image to a jpeg file which can be uploaded to

I know I’ve said this before but the best place to learn more about using Lightroom’s Print module is in Scott Kelby’s new book The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2 Book for Digital Photographers or at Matt Kloskowski’s Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Killer Tips blog.

Lightroom Print Template

Lightroom Print Template layout and print job settings for a 16″ x 20″ fine art print including a custom identity plate. Mpix can print this high-resolution jpeg in 4′ x 5″, 8″ x 10″ or 16″ x 20″ sizes and the prints look great!

Lightroom Layout SettingsLightroom Print Job Settings

Field of Dreams

Here’s one more image taken during last Friday’s trip to the Texas hill country. It’s been a hot, dry summer for much of the hill country and as you can see, a little rain would go a long way.

Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shots taken with a Canon 40D tripod mounted, 17-40mm f/4L USM at 40mm, f/16 for 1/30th of a second at ISO 100 on SanDisk digital film. Post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2’s develop module and in Color Efex Pro. Click on the image above for a larger version.

All Kinds of Beauty

Hiking through a pine forest in the Texas hill country is a great way to spend an afternoon. We are blessed to live in a state with such a wide variety of natural beauty. We are also very fortunate in Texas to have such beautiful state parks like the Buescher State Park and Bastrop State Park near La Grange, TX.

Forest Floor

Forest Floor
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shots taken with a Canon 40D hand-held, 17-40mm f/4L USM at 36mm, f/4.0 for 1/125th of a second at ISO 100 on SanDisk digital film. All post capture processing was done in Adobe Lightroom 2. Click on the image above for a larger version.