Tag Archives: lightroom

Weight and Stuff Report – 14 January 2018

Weight: 226 pounds (16 stone 2 pounds, 102.5 kg)
Steps: Not a lot

Up just a few bit, on another inactive Sunday.

My Cunning Plan with Lightroom that I mentioned yesterday seems to be working well – when I looked on the iMac this morning, all the images were where I expected them to be and everything worked. Woo hoo.

Somehow, I’d never noticed this doorway in South Shields before. Obviously I can’t have missed it, so despite it looking like it’s been there unchanged for decades, it must have appeared in that state very recently, having dropped in from a parallel Earth or something.

Time warp?

Time warp?

Camera: X-T2
Aperture: ƒ/10
Shutter speed: 1/60s
Focal length: 22mm
ISO: 1250
Taken: 13 January, 2018
Location: 54° 59.9214′ 0″ N 1° 26.0156′ 0″ W


More on Lightroom on two computers

Having got the catalog sorted with Dropbox, today was the first test of my new system. And after importing the photos, I had a thought. Yes, I know, I should be careful about doing things as risky as that, but I just couldn’t help it.

My thought was this: while keeping the whole photo library on Dropbox wasn’t going to be a good plan (it’s too big for my 1TB plan, for a start), how about just keeping the current year’s photos on Dropbox? This works for me, because my images are arranged by date (Images – Year – Month – Date. So all I had to do was create an Images folder within my existing Dropbox Lightroom folder and move the 2018 images (just those taken today, basically) into there. I thin told Lightroom where to find them and could then get on with editing on my MacBook while Dropbox gets on with synchronising them to the cloud where they’ll also sync to the  iMac.

The advantage of this approach is that it cuts out the step of having to move images imported to the MacBook, as they’ll already be in the right place. At the end of the year, I’ll move the 2018 images to the iMac and start a 2019 folder on Dropbox.

So long as I don’t create more than a few hundred gigabytes of images in any given year, this should work just fine. Of course the “make sure you wait for it to sync” thing still applies, though if there is a lag, the worst you’ll have to deal with is Lightroom moaning about missing images rather than a borked catalog.

Using Lightroom on two computers

I’ve been using Lightoom as my main photo editing and managing system for a long time now – it even precedes my Macification. In all that time, I’ve worked in a particular way. I keep my main photo library – that’s the actual image files and the Lightroom catalog – on my iMac and a separate library on my MacBook. When I go away, I take the MacBook[1] and import photos into its library. When I get home, I do an “import from other catalog” on the iMac, so all my new images and any edits I’ve made join the main library.

This works well enough, but it does mean that while I’m travelling, I have no access to my older images. And as the MacBook doesn’t have the capacity to carry a copy of my images, that seemed like an unavoidable thingy.

But several versions ago[2],  Adobe added a feature called Smart Previews to Lightroom. These are sort of medium quality versions of the images – not in the full resolution of the original files, but good enough for most editing work, and large enough for exporting to websites (though not for most printing jobs). You can tell Lightroom to create these when importing images, or you can get it to generate them for your existing library. The former is a good idea – note that if you have a lot of images, generating the Smart Previews is a “go away and let it get on with it” kind of job. You should also note that they will take up a moderately significant amount of disk space, though crucially, much less than the original image files – as an example, my library of just under 73,000 image files – a mixture of JPG and RAW – ended up needing about 60GB for the Smart Previews. Sounds like a lot, but compared to well over 1TB, it’s not so bad.

Now comes the clever bit – Lightroom can happily work with Smart Previews if the original image files are offline, so if you were to get the catalog and associated previews and smart previews onto a second computer, you’d be able to view, edit and even export images without having access to the original files.

No, now comes the clever bit – if you were to move your catalog and its associated files to a nicely synchronised cloud service such as Dropbox[3], you’d be able to open that catalog from your other computer, work on things and have access to all your images. All you’d have to do when returning from a trip is to copy your new images to the main computer and tell Lightroom where they live in the usual way.

So, I decided to give it a try.

Generating the smart previews took a while, as did copying the catalog and its associated files to my Dropbox folder. An interesting point is that, on macOS at least, you’ll see what appears to be a file called <catalog name> Smart Previews.lrdata. This is actually a folder containing numerous subfolders which eventually contain the images. And the size displayed for that file may be a wild underestimate (it was originally showing as around 4GB on my iMac). Once it was copied over, it was a matter of waiting for it to complete uploading to Dropbox. And then I could test it, and woo, hoo, it works.

So, I now have a Lightroom catalog on my MacBook that lets me see any of my photos.

Things to be aware of – you must let Dropbox sync changes made on one computer before attempting to use the catalog on another, otherwise Bad Things may happen  to your data. And make sure you back up regularly. You do back up, right?

Just to prove it, here’s an image that lives on my iMac, edited on my MacBook, and it never felt a thing.

With fronds like these, who needs anemones?

With fronds like these, who needs anemones?

Camera: X70
Aperture: ƒ/4.5
Shutter speed: 1/60s
Focal length: 18.5mm
ISO: 2000
Taken: 2 December, 2017

[1] The iMac is a bit awkward on trains
[2] I take a while to catch on sometimes
[3] I’m not convinced iCloud Drive will play nicely with this, as it’s a bit too “clever”. Dropbox does work as it syncs the individual files in the smart previews folder

Weight and Stuff Report – 22 October 2017

Weight: 232.5 pounds (16 stone 8.5 pounds, 105.5 kg)
Steps: 3,510

How exciting! Down again today…

It was a nicely non-throlling Sunday.  I did some major file reorganisation on the iMac. While trying to persuade the previous version of Lightroom to be a bit quicker, I’d split my images into multiple catalogs, then merged them back again. Being cautious with my data, this ended up with my having a load of duplicate folders all over my Pictures folder. All sorted out now, along with some other unnecessary data and Lightroom backups going back to 2013, which wouldn’t be of any use to anyone anyway.

After that I went into Newcastle to have a walk around and buy an new oven glove, as the old one was approaching the state of being completely useless at its basic job of preserving my fingers.

This is all that’s left of the Tuxedo Royale, popularly known as “the Boat” when it was a floating nightclub moored under the Tyne Bridge. Having been left to slowly sink into the Tees, it had a bit of a fire a while back, and is in a very sorry state:

No dancing tonight

No dancing tonight

Camera: X-T2
Aperture: ƒ/13
Shutter speed: 1/250s
Focal length: 55mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 21 October, 2017
Location: 54° 34.8695′ 0″ N 1° 13.4703′ 0″ W


Adobe attempt to confuse Les

OK, it’s new software versions time. All announced and released today are the latest versions of Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite.

For what I do these days, the only really important one is Lightroom. I get it bundled in the surprisingly nicely priced photography plan with Photoshop, but to be honest there’s not much that I use Photoshop for that I couldn’t do with something else. But hey, it’s a bargain.

But now things are changing. There’s a new shiny version of Lightroom CC, but that’s not the Lightroom you’re looking for. The one with CC in its name is, unlike CC things generally, actually a cloudy thing, intended to work with files synced to the included storage across multiple devices. Being shiny and new, it’s apparently not quite there in terms of features compared with the product formerly known as Lightroom CC. On first reading that, I had an eeerrrrr moment.

But it’s not quite as drastic as that. There’s also a new version of the kind of Lightroom that works with what, being a grouchy old Les who’s used to working that way, will call proper bloody files living in folders exactly where I put them. To maximise confusion, this is called Lightroom Classic, and it has some new features and performance improvements. More on that when I’ve absorbed the information.

Photography Plans now offer a choice:

The closest equivalent to the current one is much the same, and adds the new cloudy Lightroom and 20GB of online storage, which isn’t much these days. So, if (like me) you’re reasonably happy with how things work, there’s no need to change, and you can happily update Photoshop and Lightroom Classic from Creative Cloud.

For people who are more cloud-inclined (typically, people who do most, if not all of their photography on phones rather than cameras), you can have Lightroom CC with 1TB of storage for the same price.

And finally, if you’d like the best of both, you can pay twice as much to have all the software and 1TB of storage.

Usual advice on major new releases: make sure your Lightroom catalog has a good backup or six, test first to make sure any plugins work as expected and make sure you’ve got a good backup. (Yes I did say that twice)

If you have Lightroom on multiple computers, maybe try it on a secondary one first – that’s my plan.

Details from Adobe

Useful article with new features video from Matt Kloskowski

Useful article from Victoria Bampton (aka the Lightroom Queen)


My new photography site is on… my own site

Well, having been given notice by 500px that my current portfolio is going to be an ex-feature at an unspecified point in the future, I did some thinking, which led me to deciding that I might as well go back to hosting it myself.

As I mentioned in my epic upgrade post earlier in the week, I decided to go for Backlight, from The Turning Gate. Once I’d got the server playing nicely, it was time for some Lightroom fiddling.

In an attempt to improve performance, I’d split my Lightroom catalog into an old one, then yearly ones for last year and this year. Well, that was OK, but would have made doing what I want to do with Backlight a bit messy. So last night’s entertainment was creating a new catalog and moving all the images into it. That means I can publish albums including any photos at all, which is just what I need.

I’ve got a test album up with a moderately random selection of images. The appearance is getting close to what I want – a clean, simple layout that makes it easy to see the pictures.

The design works nicely on mobile, doing nicely responsive things to adjust itself to  smaller screens, while looking quite nice on larger screens, such as my iMac.

The longer-term plan is to add some themed albums to the site – the way this works with Lightroom means that adding an album is very simple:

  1. Do all normal editing operations that I’d be doing anyway
  2. Create a new album in the Lightroom Publish Service, give it a name, add a description and other details
  3. Click Publish
  4. Admire shiny new webpage

So, here’s your preview of the all-new Les Bessant Photography, now live and available for your enjoyment.  I’ll be more or less replicating the Portfolio from the 500px site (though with a slightly different set of images, which I’ll aim to keep refreshed).

If you want to see the old site while I’m building the new one, it can now be seen at this address. That’s one advantage of having loads of domain names, I can always pick one to use for something random…

UPDATE: Well, I’ve got a basic design which I’m reasonably happy with, I’ve recreated the Portfolio, so the new site is now officially live. The 500px portfolio no longer exists, and the spare domain name is once again spare, and pointing to a holding page.

Upgrading fun and games

Well, here’s an entertaining bit of techie fun for you…

It all started a while ago, when the formerly nice people at 500px announced that the portfolio feature which I was quite happy to pay for was going to be taken away, and replaced with something more complicated, but only if I gave them more money. I muttered about this back in April.

Regular readers and other such mythical creatures may recall my slight tendency to take a while to get around to things, but I’ve had a vague notion that I need to do something to replace that portfolio before the decision is taken for me. And having been bitten slightly by 500px, I was coming around to taking it back in-house, so to speak and hosting it myself. I’d half-heatedly looked at some WordPress themes, but didn’t find anything I really liked, and had long since decided that developing anything non-simple is not something I’m likely to manage to do.

Then a random thought struck me – a few years back, I’d played around with a Lightroom add-in that worked with the Web Module to generate web sites. And amazingly, I even remembered the name of the site.

So, I popped over to The Turning Gate, where I found the previous products had been replaced by Something Clever called Backlight. This consists of a web application you install on your own site and a Lightroom plugin that creates a Publish Service. Basically, you configure the site, add its details to the plugin and then publish albums.

Well, I had a good look around the site, looked at some examples, had a look at the support forum and concluded it might just be what I needed. By the nature of the product, there are no trials and no refunds, so it was a bit of a gamble, but sometimes you just have to do that.

So, I configured a new website on my Linode server and copied over the files. Hmmm. First problem: instead of the friendly login page, I got a message telling me that it needed the SQLite module and wouldn’t play without it.

SQLite is a flat-file database thingy which can hook into PHP, but it seemed I didn’t have it. After much apt-getting and muttering, I found that on Debian 9, SQLite isn’t included for PHP 5.6. There were some suggestions for downloading, compiling, standing on one leg and doing the can-can, but I know my limits…

So, I decided it was time to see about moving the server to PHP 7 (There is no PHP 6. We do not discuss PHP 6.).

I used the helpful PHP Compatibility Checker plugin to scan my site for possible issues. It pointed out that my own plugins used a bit of no longer supported code, which I was able to fix[1], and mentioned that a plugin I no longer use would break, but otherwise I should be fine.

So, I disabled the Apache PHP 5.6 module, enabled the PHP 7 module, and my new site started to behave.

I did some playing and tweaking there[2] before heading back to this site. Ah. Problems…

The first thing I noticed was that while big images were being displayed on pages, the little thumbnails in the Media Library were altogether missing.

The next thing I noticed was a load of spurious characters, mostly  appearing in posts.

The last thing was that the nifty EXIF details block below my photos was totally unformatted and a wee bit hard to read.

The first problem was easy – I used the Regenerate Thumbnails plugin to make WordPress recreate all the thumbnails.

The second was more fun – this came down to deleting the surplus characters by editing the database. Well, actually it was another plugin – Search and Replace that did the hard work for me (after I’d taken a backup of the database, and used the “dry run” feature to preview all changes).

The EXIF problem was more head-scratchy. First, the Exifography plugin had lost all its settings. Odd, but easy enough to recreate, as I have it set up identically on a test site.

That nearly worked – the details now appeared on separate lines, but not in the centred grey box. So, it was time to inspect some code. The block should appear like this:

<div class="exif">....</div>

But instead it looked like this:

<div class=\"exif\">...</div>

Well, with those backslashes escaping the quotes, it wasn’t going to work. I tried re-entering the settings, deactivated and reactivated the plugin, attempted to understand the code, and came to the conclusion that it must have voles. Or something. It looks like the stripslashes function wasn’t stripping slashes, presumably having decided on an alternative career in bakery, or something.

So, it was back to the database. I located the settings in the wp_options table, found that the value for the bit of code that begins the block did indeed contain those slashes, and so I removed them, remembering to reduce the little numeric value by two so it didn’t get confused. And yes, I am keeping that vauge: if you don’t know what any of that means, do not attempt to edit your database. If you do know what it means you’re probably laughing at this post anyway. With that change made, normal service was resumed and the data appeared as it was supposed to.

The last thing was checking on the thumbnails. On the first pass, out of well over 9,000 images, around 170 had failed to process. So, I ran it again and ended up with just six that needed some TLC. Five were ones where the file name in the database had become mangled – another case of character encoding changing things to odd symbols. It was easy enough to download the files, rename them, insert them back into the posts and delete the previous versions. The final one just seemed confused, but the same trick worked for that one too.

Most of this oddness is probably due to the age of the site – it was originally created in the early days of WordPress (v1.something), and things like character encoding can be fun for that kind of thing.

Anyway, we’re now running on PHP7 and everything now seems to be working. And that’s my longest post in ages.

[1] Now that’ll be one for another post
[2] And another one…


Weight and Stuff Report – 27 April 2017

Weight: 239.5 pounds (17 stone 1.5 pounds, 108.6 kg)
Steps: 2,534

Bother. Up another wee bit today.

Here’s another photo from last weekend’s wiiiiiiiiiiiiide angle fun and games. This is the old All Saints Church, which isn’t being used for anything currently, as far as I’m aware. I’ve fiddled about with this one in Lightroom to get a rather more vivid view than was available on the day…

All Saints

All Saints

Camera: X-T2
Aperture: ƒ/1
Shutter speed: 1/1250s
Focal length: 8mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 22 April, 2017
Location: 54° 58.2103′ 0″ N 1° 36.439′ 0″ W

Lightroom to WordPress in one easy step

Those nice WordPress people have just told me about a nifty new toy – a Lightroom plugin that will export images directly to a WordPress blog’s media library. It needs a wordpress.com login, which if you’re using Jetpack, you’ll already have.

Download the plugin, copy it to your Lightroom plugins folder (on my Macs that’s in the user Library folder under Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom/Modules) and you’ll find you now have WordPress.com as an alternative export location. The first time you use the plugin, you’ll need to log in with your wordpress.com credentials, and you’ll then see a list of all the sites you have associated with that login. From there on, it’s much the same as normal – set your size, sharpening and watermark options and click the export button. The plugin connects and drops the images into your media library, ready for inserting into a post.

Here’s one I just exported as a test:

I think it's art...

I think it’s art…

Camera: X70
Aperture: ƒ/5.6
Shutter speed: 1/250s
Focal length: 18.5mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 1 January, 2017
Location: 54° 57.7563′ 0″ N 1° 36.1133′ 0″ W

This is slightly more convenient than exporting images to a folder then importing them to WordPress, so I think I’ll be making use of this. Get it here:

WordPress.com Lightroom plug-in

Weight and Stuff Report – 8 July 2016

Gasp! Down again today! If this goes on, I’ll meet an arbitrary target soon. Well, come to think of it, I have reached the arbitrary target of being below 15½ stone as well as the adjacent arbitrary target of being below 100kg. That’s the fun thing about using multiple units, you get more targets.

Today was the office “Summer Event”, which consisted of free food and drink and a live band at the Tyne Bar. All good fun.

After leaving the event at a sensible time and after a non-lethal amount of alcohol, I got a quick iPhone photo of something interesting parked[1] on the Tyne. This has been cropped and tweaked a bit in Lightroom. Depending on this and that, I may get back down there at the weekend for a closer view

Nice boat

Nice boat

Camera: iPhone 6s
Aperture: ƒ/2.2
Shutter speed: 1/2000s
Focal length: 4.15mm
ISO: 25
Taken: 8 July, 2016
Location: 54° 58.2592′ 0″ N 1° 35.3933′ 0″ W

And this image shows the white version of my signature logo.