A Controller to Revolutionize Your Creative Workflow?

Tourbox review feature image

What is the one thing that all photographers hate? Maybe selfie sticks take the top spot. But close to the top has to be editing.

It is the one part of my workflow that I least look forward to. Like most photographers, I would much rather be spending my time taking photos than sitting in front of a monitor.

For any given assignment, I may come back with between 4000-6000 photos to edit. The quicker I can get through these, the better. So, over the years, I have looked at many ways of speeding up my workflow efficiency. I try to get my pictures as close to the final version as possible in the field. But there will always be some editing needed.

So, when I first learned about the TourBox controller, I was extremely excited to test it out.

tourbox review

About TourBox

TourBox is a controller for digital creators, designed so you can use creative software such as Photoshop and Lightroom more efficiently. TourBox is compatible with Mac and Windows, and works by adding the shortcuts that you might use in your workflow to dials and buttons. This makes it quicker and easier to access software tools and features, which in turn speeds up your workflow.

The company behind TourBox was founded in 2016, and they spent two years developing this console. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the first finished versions were shipped in July 2019 to 58 countries.

tourbox review

First impressions

The controller arrived in a stylishly-packaged box which would look at home on the shelf of a high-end department store. Inside the box was an instruction manual, a console, and a USB cable to connect the controller to a computer. There was no power cord, as the controller uses power directly from your computer.

tourbox review

One of the first things I noticed about the TourBox controller is how heavy it is. This is great, because it stops the controller sliding around on a desk. There are some grips underneath the console, but the weight helps. I also liked the slick, matte black finish, which is less slippery than gloss.

The controller is approximately 11 cm x 8 cm (and around 4 cm high to the top of the center knob).

tourbox review

Installation

TourBox is quick and easy to install. You simply to go to the TourBox website. Download the drivers and the software for the controller and follow the steps. In all, it took around four minutes for me to download and install everything needed for the console to work.

So, within a few minutes, you are ready to start using the product.

tourbox console

How does TourBox work?

In simple terms, the console replaces the shortcuts that you would type on a keyboard. By using the different dials and buttons, you can replace up to 42 different shortcuts. So, there are plenty of options (depending on how efficient you are with using keyboard shortcuts).

Selecting a shortcut is then a case of clicking different combinations on the controller. For example, in Lightroom, Command/Control+Alt+V is the shortcut for pasting settings from a previous photo to the one you are on. But you can achieve this with one button using the console if you wish.

tourbox settings

Perfect for Lightroom (and Photoshop)

One of the great things about this console is that it comes with functions for Lightroom and Photoshop already programmed in. You can literally open Lightroom and start using the console as soon as it is installed.

You might be asking: Aren’t there more than 42 shortcuts in Lightroom? What the people at TourBox have cleverly done is program shortcuts for the most commonly-used functions.

Things like temperature, tint, exposure, and contrast are controlled by pressing the relevant button. You can then turn the controller dial to adjust the slider. The other nine sliders in the Lightroom Basic panel are controlled by holding a button and clicking a direction on the Dpad.

So, as an example, if you wanted to adjust the saturation, you would hold the top button and tap the “right” arrow on the Dpad. This selects the saturation slider, which you can then adjust with the dial. Once you have selected the slider, it remains selected until you choose something else. So there’s no need to keep the buttons pressed down.

tourbox settings

But how will I remember all the combinations?

First, no need to worry. There is a handy Dpad guide that stays on the screen to show you the different functions. It will change to different combinations when you press any of the buttons on the console.

Even though the guide is on the screen, in reality, you will learn the combinations really quickly. Because let’s be honest: It is much easier to remember to click one or two buttons than four different ones.

Keep in mind that the vast majority of the editing you will do is in the basic panel. So you will be clicking these different combinations all the time. After around 15 minutes, I noticed that I began to use the console without needing the guide.

Lightroom

Customize TourBox to your needs

The console has plenty of space for your own shortcuts (i.e., settings that you might use often). So you can change any of the preset shortcuts to fit your most commonly used adjustments.

For me, one of the most used functions of Lightroom is copying the develop settings from the previous photo to the current one. I programmed this into the Tall button + C1. I have also programmed next photo and previous photo (normally the left and right arrow on a keyboard) as C1 and C2.

So I can use the console without even needing to take my hand off of it.

Tourbox settings

Faster and more efficient workflow

You may be thinking: What the point of all this is? After all, your mouse and keyboard can do all these things.

For me, the benefit of a console like this is three-fold. First, it makes it much easier and quicker to edit through photos. This is because you are not moving your hand from the mouse to the keyboard all the time, which cannot be avoided for shortcuts that need many keys to be pressed. Plus, the controller makes it easier to remember shortcuts; I struggle to remember any shortcuts which are more than two keys, so this is ideal.

The second benefit is that you have much more control when adjusting the sliders with the TourBox console (compared to the mouse). You can fine-tune the sliders in a way that’s difficult to do with a mouse.

The third benefit of TourBox is that you can use it in conjunction with a tablet (and pen) for editing. This makes using a tablet quicker, as you can switch between commands using the console.

Tourbox review
TourBox is designed for left-handed use but can also be used right-handed.

Other software

99% of my editing work happens inside Lightroom. But you can also use TourBox with other creative software such as Photoshop, Capture One, Final Cut, and more. You can create different presets for each of these programs, and TourBox automatically detects the software you are using and switches to the relevant settings. So switching your editing from Lightroom to Photoshop becomes seamless and happens without interruption.

tourbox review

Conclusion

I often get excited about new photography gadgets. But over the course of a few days and months that enthusiasm wanes, and I usually stop using the new gadget altogether. I always revert back to the old way of doing things.

But I must confess: Having had the TourBox controller for a few days now, it might become a permanent fixture in my workflow. I am finding that I am going through my editing much quicker than usual. Either I have become considerably quicker in a few days, or it is due to the TourBox console.

Summary

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How To Take More Creative Environmental Travel Portraits

more creative environmental travel portraits

Including people in your travel photos creates a stronger sense of connection for anyone who views your photos. Environmental travel portraits add depth of interest to any album, presentation or book of travel images.

Adding a person to a landscape, cultural location, or market scene will almost always add appeal to the photo. Capturing locals engrossed in what they are doing can make for a more interesting picture. Stopping to chat with them and asking if you can take their portrait means a scene takes on a whole new dynamic.

Environmental travel portraits are photos of people involved in the setting they are in. They are usually connected in some way with the location. A regular portrait will typically be cropped tighter and contain little contextual information.

Karen woman cooking for environmental travel portraits
© Kevin Landwer-Johan Nikon D800, Lens 35mm f1.4, 1/160 sec., f/2.8, ISO 1600

This is an environmental portrait of a Karen woman cooking in her home. The composition contains visual information about her lifestyle and where she lives.

Here is a portrait of a Karen woman. We were in her village when I took this photo, but there’s no visual information to tell you this.

How To Take More Creative Environmental Travel Portraits
© Kevin Landwer-Johan Nikon D800, Lens 105mm, 1/125 sec., f/8, ISO 400

Connect with your subject for better environmental travel portraits

Don’t be a shy photographer. Connecting with people will often result in more interesting environmental travel portraits. Even if you don’t have a common language, you can still relate to people. Showing an interest in someone and what they are doing, you can build a connection. Choosing the right people to photograph provides you with a better opportunity.

I saw this guy on the streets in Bangkok selling his genuine crocodile skin wallets. He demonstrated to an interested tourist that they were real. To do this, he poured some lighter fluid on the wallet and put a flame to it. I set my camera and approached him, requesting he repeat the process. He was most obliging and played up to my camera.

How To Take More Creative Environmental Travel Portraits
© Kevin Landwer-Johan Nikon D800, Lens 20mm, 1/125 sec., f/4, ISO 400

When candid is a better option

When encountering people who are totally engrossed in what they are doing it’s best to not to interrupt them. This is when it’s best to remain separate and capture candid, or semi-candid photos. I rarely hide my camera, instead, I prefer to have it out in the open so people can be aware that I’m taking photos. Most people will pay no attention, especially when you’re in a touristic area.

For this photo, I wanted to capture the young boy advertising their goods at the top of his voice. He and the older man (I presumed it was his grandfather he was helping) were aware of my presence and that I was taking photos. I was able to do so without disrupting the action.

How To Take More Creative Environmental Travel Portraits
© Kevin Landwer-Johan Nikon D700, Lens 120mm, 1/800 sec., f/2.8, ISO 400

Framing your subject

Environmental travel portraits need to show something of your subject’s surroundings. Where you position your subject in the frame will influence how they look in their environment. As always, aim to fill your frame only with what is relevant to the photo you’re making. Compose so your subject looks connected to their surroundings.

Photographing this Akha woman picking coffee in northern Thailand, I chose to place her near the edge of the frame. I wanted to fill most of the frame with the coffee bush she was picking from. I also placed her further back from the camera and positioned myself, so there were coffee cherries closer to my lens. This helps draw your eye to the cherries and makes them more obvious.

How To Take More Creative Environmental Travel Portraits
© Kevin Landwer-Johan Nikon D700, Lens 24mm, 1/60 sec., f/5, ISO 800

Choosing the best lens for environmental travel portraits

The lens you use for environmental travel portraits will depend a lot on the location you are photographing in. Often a wider lens if more effective than a longer one because you’ll capture more of the location without being too far from your subject. Remember what Robert Capa said, “If your photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”

I used my 35mm lens to make this photo of a young French horn player. He was performing in a band during the Chiang Mai Flower Festival parade. Getting fairly close to him, I was also able to show other band members in my composition without including too many other distracting details in the area.

How To Take More Creative Environmental Travel Portraits
© Kevin Landwer-Johan Nikon D800, Lens 35mm, 1/5000 sec., f/1.4, ISO 400

Manage your depth of field well

A very shallow depth of field will not often show enough detail in the environment. Too much information can be excluded. Your aim is to include enough of the environment so it adds meaning to the portrait.

Too much in focus in an environmental travel portrait can mean your subject gets lost in the background. You must be aware of how sharp or how blurred your background is. Managing your depth of field well enables you to keep the person you’re photographing as the main subject. Done well, this will encompass enough background detail without it being distracting.

I made this portrait of a samlor (tricycle taxi) rider sitting in his cab. In the background is another samlor passing by. It’s blurred enough so it’s not distracting, but you can still make out what it is, so it adds to the photo.

How To Take More Creative Environmental Travel Portraits
© Kevin Landwer-Johan Nikon D800, Lens 50mm, 1/1250 sec., f/1.4, ISO 100

Wait for the right moment

Careful timing can really make a difference. Watch and observe the person you are photographing and how they are interacting with their environment. Look for patterns of movement and repetition. This can often help you pick the right moment to make your portraits.

For this photo of my friend on National Elephant Day in Thailand, I waited for the elephant’s handler to give the command for the elephant to kiss her. The other elephants and tables with food for them set the scene.

How To Take More Creative Environmental Travel Portraits
© Kevin Landwer-Johan Nikon D700, Lens 35mm f2, 1/100 sec., f/4.5, ISO 125

Always be aware of lighting

Light will add feeling to your environmental travel portraits when you use it well. Look at the type of lighting in the location where you’re making your portraits. Is it conducive to the style of the portrait you wish to make? Do you need to come back at another time of the day or night? Will adding some flash improve the portrait?

Often when you’re traveling, you can’t wait for the right light, so you must make the best use of available light. When the light at the location is not great, you need to get creative and add some using a flash or reflector.

For this night portrait of a Samlor rider, I was able to position him to make the most of the light in the street market behind him. I also used my flash to illuminate him and help catch a glimpse of the motorcycle passing behind him.

How To Take More Creative Environmental Travel Portraits
© Kevin Landwer-Johan Nikon D800, Lens 35mm, 4 sec., f/9, ISO 100

Make use of props when you can

Be sure to look around for items that may enhance your portraits. Including appropriate props will help make more interesting environmental travel portraits.

I’d asked this man if I could photograph him sitting outside his home in a small village in northern Thailand. As he went to sit down, he put his crutches inside, thinking I did not want to include them in the photo. I asked him if it was okay to have them in the picture too.

How To Take More Creative Environmental Travel Portraits
© Kevin Landwer-Johan Nikon D700, Lens 24mm, 1/125 sec., f/4.5, ISO 800

Conclusion

Be mindful of your surroundings and think about how you can make interesting pictures that tell a story. Who is this person, and how can I make a portrait that captures relevant information about their surroundings?

Please share other tips you have for creating environmental travel portraits, or some of your pictures in the comments below.

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Creatively Using the New Lightroom Hue Control

Shop for items online and you’re often offered color choices. Would you like that hat in red, orange, blue, green, tan or teal? Click on the item, select your desired color, and the item will change to reflect your color choice.

Now, how about if you could selectively change the color of items in your photos without affecting other colors in the image? Maybe you bought the orange hat, took a photo of yourself in it, and wished you’d instead picked the blue one. No problem, don’t return the hat; you can change its color in your photo with the new Adobe Lightroom Hue Control.

One shot, multiple colors with new Lightroom Local Hue Adjustment tool
One photo, many color variations using the Lightroom Hue Control tool.

Global versus local adjustments

Reach for the Exposure slider in the Develop Module of Lightroom, and slide it left and right. You will see the entire image get lighter or darker. Any of the other sliders will affect the image similarly. Controls which affect the entire image are called global.

What if you want to adjust just a portion of the image? Brighten up that one tree, do some dodging and burning, bring up the saturation of a sunset, make adjustments that affect only certain areas?

To you so you need to be able to make local adjustments. Lightroom offers three tools with this capability: the Adjustment Brush, the Radial Filter, and the Graduated Filter. Using those tools to add masks to the image will then allow you to apply the effects of the other sliders to just the masked areas.

Adobe photo editing programs

Adobe Photo Editing programs
Choose your weapon: Lightroom Classic, Lightroom, Photoshop, or Adobe Camera Raw.

In discussing the use of the Lightroom Hue Control, I’ll be using the Adobe product I typically work with: Lightroom Classic. (The new logo now shows LrC.)

This is the version that runs on your local computer and stores images on your own hard drives. There is another version that Adobe simply calls Lightroom (LR). It has a slightly different interface and stores images online in the “cloud.” Then there is Photoshop (PS) with its accompanying tool, Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). Both versions of Lightroom have the new Hue Control, as does Adobe Camera RAW, so what we cover here can be done with any of those programs.

(Just a gripe with Adobe: Could you not have avoided confusion and named these programs differently?)

Wouldn’t Photoshop be better?

Before we discuss how to change colors in an image using the Lightroom Hue Control tool, I want to briefly address the Photoshop devotees in the crowd. More than a few times when I’ve told seasoned editors that I use Lightroom to edit my images, they will scoff and tell me that “real” photo editors use Photoshop. So let’s get this out of the way, especially as we discuss changing colors in an image.

I will be the first to admit that Photoshop has more sophisticated and precise tools, the ability to make selections, create layers, use color channels, and bring much greater control to what we’ll be showing here. However, Photoshop also has a much steeper learning curve. It also requires more steps to accomplish the task. Can you do a better and more precise job changing the colors of things in a photo with Photoshop? Most likely. But can you often get acceptable results with Lightroom (LrC, LR, or ACR)? Learn the techniques in this article and then you tell me.

What is hue?

Ask a child to hand you the red crayon from the box and they can probably do so. They know what the color “red” looks like. But in the digital photography world, we have different ways of describing color.

Cameras can only “see” three colors: red (R), green (G), and blue (B). And there are only 256 values of each.

That’s why you can describe any color by its RGB value. Pure red is 255, 0, 0; pure green is 0, 255, 0; pure yellow (a combination of red and green) is 255, 255, 0.

In the printing world, where inks and pigments are used to make colors, cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y), and black (K) are the primary colors, and any color can be created with a CMYK combination (i.e., red is 0, 100, 100, 0).

Defining color using the HSL model.
One way of defining digital color is using the HSL model: Hue, Saturation, and Lightness (or Luminosity).

There is another way of describing color, and that’s the one we’re interested in when using the Lightroom Hue Control. This uses a Hue (H), Saturation (S), and Lightness (or Luminosity) (L) description. Here, hue is synonymous with what we typically call color. Saturation refers to the intensity of the color, with zero saturation being shades of gray. Lightness/Luminosity is how light or dark the color is, with zero being black and 255 being pure white.

A new hue for you

So what we’re able to adjust with the Lightroom Hue Control is just that: the hue. We can make an orange hat blue without changing the saturation (S) or lightness (L). In doing so, we retain the tone and texture in an image while changing its hue/color (H).

Making it local

Lightroom has had tools for globally adjusting color in an image, such as the temperature and tint sliders and the HSL/Color controls, for some time. But those tools worked globally or had limited control over color. With the newest version of Lightroom released in June of 2020 (LrC 9.3, LR 3.3, ACR 12.3), the ability to combine hue adjustment with other tools was added. Now, color can be controlled much more precisely, exactly where you want it, and in combination with other tools. Local control is the ticket.

New Local Hue Control in Lightroom
If you’ve installed the latest version of Lightroom (LrC) or LR or ACR, you will now see this tool.

When, where, and how to use local hue adjustments

Perhaps a good way to learn how to use the new tool is to work through a photo and use it to selectively change some colors. We’ll use the image below of my grandson, William, (who to me in this shot looks like the Peanuts cartoon strip character Linus in the pumpkin patch awaiting the arrival of the “Great Pumpkin.”)

Original colors in this photo
This is the edited photo of William (aka “Linus” in this setting). These are the original colors of the image.

The hat trick: Step-by-step

Let’s take this step by step and change the orange hat to blue using the Lightroom Hue Control.

Local adjustment tools in Lightroom
There are three local adjustment tools in Lightroom: The Graduated Filter, The Radial Filter, and the Adjustment Brush.

We want local adjustment control, and I mentioned Lightroom has three tools that allow this: the Adjustment Brush, the Radial Filter, and the Graduated Filter. The Adjustment Brush is the best choice for selecting only the hat.

Select the Adjustment Brush, and turn on the mask overlay by hitting “O” on your keyboard or by checking the box that says Show Selected Mask Overlay.

Rough application of mask with Adjustment brush
Use the Adjustment Brush to roughly paint over the hat. Have the overlay on to see what you’re doing. Here I’ve made the overlay green to see it better.

Start painting over the hat with the Adjustment Brush. You may find that the overlay is red and hard to see on the orange hat, so you can cycle through the overlay colors by tapping Shift and O on your keyboard. I’d recommend turning the mask overlay green, which is much easier to see on the orange hat.

You are going to refine your selection in a minute, so for now, don’t worry about being precise.

Refining your selection

In Photoshop, we would likely make a selection of the hat using the tools provided. And once the hat was selected, we would see what has come to be called the “marching ants” dashed outline of our selection. Don’t look for the ants in Lightroom. There are no “selection” tools here. Instead, we use what are called masks to define where we want our effects applied. There are several ways to refine our selection. They are:

  • Use the add and erase features of the Adjustment Brush. You can add to the mask simply by brushing where you want. This is the default and you will see a “+” symbol inside the tool indicating you are adding to the mask. Want to erase or subtract parts of the mask? Hold down the Alt key (Option on a Mac), and the + will turn to a – symbol, indicating you are now subtracting from the mask. Zooming in close and working with a small brush will allow you to fine-tune the mask.
  • Another option is to check the Auto Mask box as you paint with the Adjustment Brush.
  • A fairly new addition to Lightroom is the Range Mask tool. You have the option to use Color or Luminance to create your mask. Because the hat we are masking is all fairly close to the same color orange here, a range mask should work well.
Using Lightroom Automask
Think of Auto Mask as an edge detection tool. Check the Auto Mask box and then use the Adjustment Brush to add (+) or subtract (-) from your mask.
Add to (+) or Subtract from (-) the mask
If the Adjustment Brush shows a + sign, you can add to the mask. Hold down the Alt key (Option on a Mac) to remove portions of the mask.

Home on the range

So let’s refine our selection of the hat with the Color Range Mask. Here are the steps:

  • Select the rough mask that you’ve already created. Then choose Color from the Range Mask dropdown.
  • An eyedropper tool will appear next to the Range Mask menu. Click to pick it up, then bring it over the hat.
  • Click the left mouse button and drag a small square over a portion of the hat to select a range of the orange colors. (Don’t worry about your mask overlay. It’s selecting the colors underneath.)
  • When you let go of the mouse button, the mask will be refined to now cover only the color range you selected. (A tip here: Put the eyedropper back when you are done with this range selection.)
  • To better see what was selected, hold down the Alt (Option) key on your keyboard and click the Amount slider for the Range Mask. You can drag the slider to refine the mask even further while doing this. Moving the slider to the right will increase the range of the selection; moving the slider to the left will decrease the range.
The Range Mask in Lightroom
The Range Mask will allow you to refine your mask using Color or Luminance.
Lightroom Hue Control
Using the eyedropper tool in the Color Range Mask, drag a box including samples of the color you wish to mask. Alternatively, click a spot, hold down Shift, and click another spot to choose multiple sample areas. When you let go, the mask will be refined.
Seeing the Range Mask selection
To better see what the Range Mask has selected, hold down the Alt key (Option on a Mac) and click and hold the Amount slider.

A whole new hue

Once we’re happy with our selection, it’s time to change the color. Here’s where we will use the new Lightroom Hue Control. Here are the steps:

  • It’s best to turn off the overlay option so you can better see the color shift, so press “O” on the keyboard. The overlay will disappear, but as long as the pin for your selection is still selected, you’ll be working with the right selection.
  • Go to the rainbow-like Hue control slider. You will see the top slider is set at the existing color; in our case, this is orange. Now, drag the bottom slider toward the color (on the top slider) you wish to change to. You will see the color change in the masked area of the image as you do this. Release the mouse button when the color gets close to the new color you want.
  • To further tweak the color, check the Use Fine Adjustment box. Now drag the slider left and right to refine the color as you like (it will barely move).
  • You may find you need to refine your mask if areas were missed or overflowed outside your desired area. Use the methods outlined above to fine-tune your mask further.
Changing colors with the Lightroom Hue Control
With your mask selected, use the Hue slider to choose the new color you want.

Further tuning

While your mask is still selected, most of the rest of the Lightroom sliders can be used and will affect only the area in that mask. For example, if the new color is too light or dark, the Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, and Blacks sliders can all be used. You may want to explore what some of the other sliders can do for the newly recolored area.

Using other controls to refine the new LR color
You may want to use some of the other sliders in Lightroom to refine your new color. Most will work locally within your mask while it is selected.

When you are finished with all the tweaks and recoloring, don’t forget to click the Done button.

Before and After using the Lightroom Hue Control
Here’s a Before and an After. Notice I also changed some of the diamonds on his sweater using other masks, each done the same way.

Multiple masks and recolored areas

If you need to recolor another area of your image, simply make new selections and repeat the same process:

  • Make a rough selection with the Adjustment Brush, Graduated Filter, or Radial Filter. Do this with the overlay on to see where you’re working.
  • Fine-tune your selection
  • Change the hue as desired. Check the Use Fine Adjustment box to get the color you want.
  • Further fine-tune your area with the other sliders in Lightroom

Not just for clothing color changes

In the example above, the color change to the hat was pretty dramatic; we took it from the original orange color to the complete opposite complementary color on the color wheel (blue). Sometimes, though, you only want a subtle change. Perhaps you want to change the shade of green on the leaves of a tree, take out a color cast on a certain object in your shot, or slightly change the color of portions of the sky.

You might also want to omit the step of refining a mask, and simply use the Adjustment Brush, change the color with the Hue slider, and start painting. Subtle color changes to portions of your image might be a way to get the look you want.

Use the Lightroom Hue Control for landscape images
The camas blooms are probably closer to the blue shade in the before shot, but for dramatic effect I used the Lightroom Hue Control technique here to make them more purple.

Snapshots along the way

When working on an image in Lightroom and trying new things, it can be a good practice to make Snapshots as you go. That way, if you want to go back to any point in your editing process, you can.

Click the + symbol in the Snapshot panel (or use the shortcut Control/Command + N), give the snapshot a name, and then continue your work. Later, you’ll be able to go back to the snapshot if required. Perhaps you want to show the various color versions of an item but don’t want to save multiple files. Change the color, make a snapshot, change it again, make another snapshot, and so forth. Later, you can bring up the image, go to the named snapshot, and see that color version.

Multiple versions without multiple copies in Lightroom
A real plus of Lightroom is being able to make multiple versions without making multiple copies of a file. Work through your image, make multiple color versions, and use the Snapshot feature to save each color variation (all in the same file!). Also, notice here what a nice job the Color Range Mask did of selecting the background color of the blouse and allowing me to change it to purple while retaining the color of the flowers in the pattern.

Color your world

As Adobe adds new tools to its products, we have new ways of editing our photos. We can better achieve the creative looks we like and even have various versions of the same image (all without having to take multiple photos or make multiple copies of an image). I hope you’ll give the new Lightroom Hue Control a try.

And then post some of your before/after images in the comments. I look forward to seeing your creativity.

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Sony Announces the a7S III, With 4K/120p and a 9.44M-dot EVF

sony a7s iii announcement

After months of rumors, it’s finally official:

The Sony a7S III will hit the shelves in September, offering a whole host of brand new features, including a stellar autofocus system, a class-leading electronic viewfinder, pro-level video recording capabilities, and much more.

Let’s take a closer look.

What is the Sony a7S III?

The a7S III is Sony’s latest video/stills hybrid camera, which replaces the a7S II (a camera that debuted way back in 2015 and was long overdue for an upgrade).

The a7S III is a full-frame mirrorless model and technically designed to excel at both video and still shooting. But there’s a clear lean toward videographers, thanks to advanced recording capabilities such as:

  • 4K/120p video (with a 1.1x crop)
  • Internally recorded, uncropped 4K/60p video (with a recording limit of 1 hour)
  • Internally recorded, uncropped 4K/30p video (with no time limit)
  • 10 bit 4:2:2 recording
  • S-Log

As you can see, there’s quite a lot to satisfy serious videographers, such as the internal 4K/120p (for high-quality slow-motion footage), as well as unlimited 4K/30p shooting (for projects that require longer recording times).

You also get in-body image stabilization, as well as impressive high-ISO performance and at least 15 stops of dynamic range (according to Sony, anyway).

But while the a7S III is an impressive video contender, how does it look when arranged against more still-centric cameras? Can it hold its own?

Can the a7S III work for still photography?

At first glance, the a7S III is an extraordinarily capable camera for still photographers.

I mentioned the in-body image stabilization above, and that’s a boon for videographers and still photographers alike. You also get dual card slots, important for a select crowd of professional photographers, and a fully-articulating LCD for capturing images (or video) from awkward angles.

And the a7S III packs a 9.44M-dot electronic viewfinder, which is by far the highest resolution EVF currently available in a mirrorless camera (the former EVF champions sit at a still-respectable 5.76M-dot resolution). This should put to rest any claims by photographers that mirrorless EVFs just can’t compete with OVFs, because a near 10M-dot EVF is going to look insanely good.

The a7S III also features a new AF system, offering 759 phase-detection points, as well as 10 frames-per-second continuous shooting with a buffer of 1000+ RAW images.

All this seems extremely impressive, but for one major feature:

Resolution.

The a7S III only packs 12 MP, which is perfect for video but deeply disappointing for still photographers, especially in the current resolution-hungry market. These days, full-frame cameras offer a resolution of at least 20 MP, but often push higher, from 24 MP in the Sony a7 III to 61 MP in the Sony a7R IV.

Of course, there are photographers out there who aren’t caught up in the megapixel craze, and those folks might be willing to use the a7S III for still shooting, assuming they also have significant video needs. But megapixels aren’t just about marketing; a 12 MP camera does offer serious limitations in terms of high-resolution printing, as well as cropping in post-processing.

So while the a7S III is a truly impressive video camera, it (like its predecessors) sacrifices too much to be a serious still photography option for most shooters.

The a7S III will hit the shelves in September for an MSRP of $3500 USD, and is currently available for preorder here.

Now over to you:

What do you think about the a7S III? Are you pleased? Disappointed? And would you use it for still photography? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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Step-by-step Guide to Long Exposure Photography

In the past few years, thanks to the diffusion of useful accessories and photographic filters with good quality and low prices, the technique of long exposure has become increasingly popular among photography enthusiasts. Even if this technique can be used both in the studio and in an urban environment, the perfect playground for long exposures is landscape photography.

Unfortunately, it often happens that the result we get is far from our expectations, and we end up classifying the long exposure as an impossible technique. However, following this step-by-step guide to long exposure photography, you’ll see how easy it is to get a good result on the first attempt (or almost!).

Picture 1

Step One: Study the weather

A day with a cloudless sky is a good day to drink a beer with friends, not to make long exposures. Likewise, it cannot rain forever, so do not resign yourself to an afternoon with your PlayStation. You should study satellite images rather than the meteorological sites, trying to figure out if there is an incoming storm, or if the downpour is about to end.

Step Two: Visit the location well in advance

Scout the location ahead of time, as you need a lot of time to find the perfect composition, or at least more than the time needed for a “short exposure”. In fact, in a long exposure, the world is completely different from how you see it with your own eyes. You have to try to see it with your mind, looking for a harmonious composition that includes moving subjects, trying to predict the direction of the clouds or the force of the sea.

Try not to put the sun into the composition, because its movement will ruin the shot and it will create an area of overexposure that is not recoverable. If you cannot avoid the sun, wait for it to hide behind a cloud.

Picture 2

Step Three: Use a tripod

Mount your camera on a tripod and install all the accessories such as the remote shutter release and the filter holder (if you are using drop-in filters). However, wait to actually install the filters. This is very important!

Step Four: Compose the image and lock focus

Refine your composition, focus on the subject, and lock the focus. If you are using manual focus, go ahead and turn the lens’s focus ring.

If you are using your camera’s autofocus mode, you should focus by half-pressing the shutter button, and once the focus has been made, while still holding down the shutter button halfway, push the lever from Auto Focus to Manual. In this way, your camera will maintain the focus (alternately, you could use back-button focus).

Picture 3

Step Five: Set the exposure

Now set your camera to Manual (M) mode or Aperture Priority (A/Av) mode. Then set the aperture to an appropriate value for the scene (for landscapes I suggest between f/8 and f/11) and take a “test shot.”

The test is complete when you get a correct exposure. To determine if the exposure is correct, check the histogram (do not trust your display, it is too bright). It is true that there is no universally correct result on the histogram, but there are histograms that are universally incorrect, namely moved completely to the right or left side (the image is respectively overexposed or underexposed).

Once the test shot is successful, write down the shutter speed you used for that shot.

Step Six: Add your filter

Now add your Neutral Density (ND) filter. If the filter is very strong (10 stops, for example), you will not be able to see through the viewfinder or the Live View. Do not worry, because if you have followed the guide up to this point you will notice that we have already made the composition and the focus too. You are blind, but your camera will see everything perfectly.

Picture 4

Step Seven: Change to Bulb mode

Set the shooting mode to Bulb (B) in order to discard the thirty-second limit of the camera. Do not change any of the other settings (ISO and aperture) used in the test shot.

Step Eight: Take your long exposure shot

It is finally time to take our long exposure shot.

But how long will you need to leave the shutter open? It is less difficult than you might expect. First of all, recollect the shutter speed that you noted down from the “test shot” you did in Step Five above. Now you must compensate by the number of stops introduced by the filter.

For example, if your test shot was 1/15th of a second, adding 10 stops will get a shutter speed of approximately 60 seconds. Now you have your shutter speed!

(No need to get stuck in the mathematics: On the internet you can easily find conversion tables and applications for your smartphone that will do the conversion for you.)

Picture 5

Step Nine: Check the histogram again

Once you’ve taken the shot with the calculated shutter speed, check the histogram. If the new histogram is approximately equal to the histogram of the test shot, mission accomplished. If it is shifted too far to the right or to the left, repeat the shot again correcting the shutter speed.

Easy, isn’t it? Now fill your backpack with your camera and filters and go to practice in the field!

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Sample Poses to Get You Started with Photographing Men

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

Previously we’ve created posing guides with suggested sample poses to help you get started posing women, (also see part 2 for posing women), posing children, posing couples, posing groups and posing weddings so today let’s look at some sample starting poses with men photography.

Men are usually less comfortable in process of being photographed, so it’s important to get him to be at ease with the process poses he makes in order to get good results.

It is always a good idea to prepare before the photo shoot. Just one more peace of advice – involve your subject in the process!

He will feel more confident knowing the plan, what he has to “do” and what kind of outcome is expected. Showing this kind of posing cheat sheet to your model is indeed a very good way to prepare your subject for a photo shoot and make him feel more relaxed and confident at the same time.

So, let’s look at some sample poses for men

1. Very simple pose for a man’s portrait: An upper body shot with crossed arms. Two things to take care of: Shoulders should be pulled back a little, stomach muscles kept in check.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

2. Crossed arms works very well in full height shots as well. In addition, ask him to cross one leg in front of the other. But make sure the body weight is not supported equal on both legs, otherwise that would look just awkward!

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

3. A recurring question from your subject might be “Where shall I put my hands?” The solutions is actually quite simple. There are four places to keep in mind (mixed in any combination utilizing both hands). #1. Loosely by the side. #2. On the hips. #3. In the pockets. #4. Both hands crossed on the chest. And in addition – hands should always be relaxed, which means no muscle pressure, except you are photographing a bodybuilder 🙂

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

4. A casual pose for an uprightly standing man. Men indeed have a problem with placing their hands, by keeping them fully or partly in the side pockets, you have a sure way to achieve natural and relaxed pose.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

5. Just a slight variation to the previous pose. Some piece of clothing over the shoulder, merely a thumb in the pocket, and legs crossed work very well.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

6. For a sitting pose, putting the ankle of one leg onto the knee of the other looks relaxed and natural. Shoot slightly from above.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

7. Leaning against a wall is just another variant for upright posing.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

8. The sideways way of leaning against the same wall. Works very well for both casual and formal shots.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

9. Very simple pose for a formal portrait. Items held in the hand (e.g. a laptop, books, or even tools) can work as insignia that point at the subject’s occupation.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

10. Against common belief, it is absolutely fine to make shots of a man sitting partly on a desk. For formal portraits such a pose might counteract rigidness.

posing-men-subjects10.png

11. Very simple pose for a portrait with a man sitting at a desk. To reveal the subject’s profession place work related items on the desk that can function as insignia.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

12. A slight variation of the previous pose. Very appropriate for formal portraits.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

13. To show the work environment while removing the distance created by a foreground object like a desk, take your shot from the back side. The result will be formal but inviting at the same time.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

14. A man supporting himself on a desk with arms crossed. Again you could place work related items on the desk to point to the subject’s profession.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

15. Using a chair as a prop can make a portrait more engaging and interesting. Very suitable when introducing creative people in their work environment.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

16. Sitting comfortably in a chair usually works for a corporate and formal portraits.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

17. Easy and natural pose with a man sitting on the ground. Try different shooting directions and angles.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

18. Another variant of a man’s pose while sitting on the ground. Suitable for outdoor locations.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

19. An easy and relaxed looking pose for a sitting man.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

20. Informal pose. The man is sitting on the ground resting his back against the wall or some object.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

21. Finally, let your subject be the protagonist of your picture. Never be afraid to crop tightly around the model’s face.

Posing Guide for taking Great Photos of Men

That should be at least something to use as a starting point. Again, remember that there are no absolutes, each sample pose might and should be adjusted depending on your shooting environment and scenario. There is no need to overdo anything. Actually, all you need for good people portraits is simplicity. Simple backgrounds, simple clothing, simple poses and natural expressions.

Check out our other Posing Guides:

Grab Our Guide to Portrait Posing

Kaspars Grinvalds is a photographer working and living in Riga, Latvia. He is the author of Posing App where more poses and tips about people photography are available.

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Weekly Photography Challenge – ReEdit

This week’s weekly photography challenge – ReEdit

Hey! it’s Simon here, I’m our support guy and I look after the dPS Facebook group. This weekend I’ve slipped in to have a go at the weekly challenge as our ed, Caz, is off having a well-deserved break!

What I’ve chosen for this week’s theme is ‘Re-Edit’ and by that, I mean going into wherever you keep your photos and re-editing one in Photoshop or Gimp or PSP or whatever you use! Choose a photograph, change it with a re-edit, see what you can make it into and share it! (Details on how and where to share at the end of this post)

Weekly Photography Challenge – ReEdit
My Cuban Street Scene – The Original
Weekly Photography Challenge – ReEdit
My Cuban Street Scene – The Re-edit

The photograph can be of anything you desire, and for extra points, you can share the original and the re-edit if you’d like to. By way of example, you can see my original Cuban street scene above, and I’ve gone ahead and re-edited into a grungy black&white, I’ve done the same again with my Melbourne sunset below, and after its re-edit.

dPS Weekly CHallenge
Melbourne Skyline – The sunset
Weekly Photography Challenge – ReEdit
Melbourne Skyline – The Re-edit

Great! Where do I upload my photos?

Simply upload your shot into the comment field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see. Or, if you’d prefer, upload them to your favourite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them. We’re interested to see how you revisit the images that you’ve taken before now in this re-edit challenge!

Share in the dPS Facebook Group

You can also share your images in the dPS Facebook group as the challenge is posted there each week as well.

If you tag your photos on Flickr, Instagram, Twitter or other sites – tag them as #DPSReEdit to help others find them. Linking back to this page might also help others know what you’re doing so that they can share in the fun.

Most of all, have fun, check out other people’s photographs and encourage each other! Thanks for having me! — S



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4 Ways of Creating Effective Catchlights in Portraiture

Catchlights in portraiture example
Canon 5D Mark III | Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Macro | 50mm | 1/80 sec | f/5.6 | ISO 100

It is arguable that the most important part of a portrait is your subject’s eyes. While there is a case or two in which this might not be true, for the most part, the eyes are the focal point of portraits. This is because, when we interact with people on a one-to-one basis, it’s the eyes that we use to interact with one another.

As a photographer, it’s vital that you are able to present your subject’s eyes as the focal point in your images. One key way to do this is through the deliberate use and manipulation of catchlights. Catchlights in portraiture are the reflection(s) of your light source(s) that appear in the eyes. 

This article will discuss why catchlights are important, how to make use of them, and how to manipulate them to your benefit. It will also discuss several ways to help you to include catchlights in your portraiture.

What are catchlights?

catchlights in portraiture types of catchlights
Catchlights are the reflection of the light source in your subject’s eyes.

As mentioned above, catchlights are the reflections of your light source as they appear in your subject’s eyes. It doesn’t matter if you are using natural light or flash; if there is light going directly into your subject’s eyes, there will be a catchlight.

In terms of photography, this is important because the presence of a catchlight in portraiture means that the detail in your subject’s eye will be revealed in the final images. If there is no detail in the eyes, it will be that much more difficult for your viewers to engage with the subject. You’ve probably heard of the term dead-eyes before. That’s what this is referring to. 

Ensuring you have a catchlight

catchlights in portraiture
Making sure that your catchlights are a prominent feature in your subject’s eyes can help you to create more evocative portraits. Canon 5D Mark III | Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Macro | 50mm | 1/125 sec | f/5 | ISO 100

If your goal is to create a catchlight in your portraits, the easiest way to do it is to ensure that your key light is pointed directly into your subject’s eyes. Because your key light will be the brightest light source in your frame, this will help to ensure that the catchlight is as bright as possible, making sure that it stands out. 

If you are using natural light, or studio lighting with a modeling light, you will be able to see the catchlights in your subject’s eyes before you take the picture. All you have to do to ensure a catchlight is direct your subject’s pose until you can see the catchlight. If you are using a light source without a modeling light, you will have to be more careful. Take a test shot and review it on the back of your camera to see what’s going on, then guide your subject from there. 

Placement

catchlights in portraiture
Ensuring that the main catchlight is at the top of your subject’s eye is a great starting point. This is a natural place for the catchlight to sit and leaves most of the eye unobscured. Canon 5D Mark III | Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Macro | 50mm | 1/60 sec | f/5.0 | ISO 100

To help ensure more natural results, it can help for you to light your subject from above. This has a few effects. The first of these is that it places the catchlight at the top of your subject’s eye, just as it would be if they were outdoors and being lit by the sun. Also, having the catchlight at the top of the eye helps to have more of the eye visible in the frame. 

If you are using more than one catchlight, the position of the other ones doesn’t matter too much, but putting the main catchlight at the top of the eye is still a good idea. 

Big vs small

catchlights in portraiture size of catchlight
The size of your catchlight is going to depend on your chosen light source and how far away that light source is from your subject.

The size of the catchlights in your subject’s eye is entirely dependent on the light sources you are using. If you are shooting in the middle of a clear day, the light source will be the naked sun, and it will appear as a small pinprick of a catchlight in your subject’s eye.

If you are shooting on an overcast day, the entire sky becomes your light source. It is not uncommon for the catchlight to appear massive, as a reflection of everything that appears above the horizon. And if you are in a studio using a large octabox close to your subject, your catchlight will be enormous and take up a large portion of the eye. 

How big you want your catchlights is entirely up to you. Personally, I prefer them to be somewhere in the middle. Too small and they barely show up in anything wider than a close-up portrait. Too big and they take up far too much of the eye, dominating one of the most important parts of your image. 

On occasion, you might hear people saying that catchlights should only ever be small. This is not a rule. Use whatever size catchlight you want.

Bright vs dim

catchlights in portraiture
Large light sources close to your subject will result in dimmer catchlights. Smaller light sources will result in brighter catchlights. It doesn’t matter which you choose, but it can help to be aware of it.

Another aspect of catchlights in portraiture that is dictated by the size of the light source is how bright the catchlights appear. Catchlights made by smaller light sources (such as the sun or small studio modifiers) will appear brighter than those made by large light sources (such as an overcast sky or large studio modifiers). 

Again, how you use this is entirely up to you. In a close-up portrait where the eyes take up a large portion of the frame, the brightness of the catchlights won’t matter as much. However, in a three-quarter length or full-length shot where the eyes are a much smaller part of the image, you may need catchlights to be brighter so that they stand out more. 

Of course, you always have the option of brightening up your catchlights with a bit of dodging and burning afterward, but making the choice at the time of capture can help to save you a lot of time behind the computer. 

Doing more with catchlights in portraiture

Beyond the basics of simply placing a catchlight in your subject’s eye, looking out for new and intriguing ways to use catchlights in portraiture can be a fun and rewarding pursuit. There are a lot of different things you can do to try and make your catchlights more exciting and visually interesting. This section will outline a few of these. 

1) Add more lights

catchlights in portraiture
Adding more lights (that show in your subject’s eyes) is one simple way of changing up the catchlights in your portraits. Canon 5D Mark III | Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM | 35mm | 1/125 sec | f/5.6 | ISO 100

Simply adding an extra light or two is possibly the easiest way to make your catchlights a little more interesting. Any secondary lighting that you use that is in your subject’s line of sight will usually appear as a second catchlight in their eye. 

catchlights in portraiture
Here the two fill lights show up as two additional catchlights.

The thing to look out for here is that you don’t go overboard. Having your subject’s entire eye consumed by multiple large catchlights will probably look more disconcerting to your viewer than clever. By all means, experiment, but don’t be afraid to dial it back a notch if you go too far.

2) Use a reflector

catchlights in portraiture
The humble white reflector is a great way to add a subtle second catchlight that lifts the brightness of your subject’s eyes. Canon 5D Mark III | Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM | 35mm | 1/125 sec | f/14 | ISO 100

Adding a simple white reflector as fill can help to lift your subject’s eyes with a catchlight of its own. This will usually result in a subtler effect, but it can lead to much brighter and more vivid eyes in your images. 

catchlights in portraiture
Here you can see just how much the reflector is doing.

3) Try different lighting patterns

catchlights in portraiture
Some lighting patterns like clamshell lighting make for really interesting catchlights. Canon 5D Mark III | Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Macro | 50mm | 1/100 sec | f/9 | ISO 100

Using lighting patterns that require multiple light sources can provide interesting catchlights as well. Cross lighting and clamshell lighting are two patterns in particular that can create interesting effects. Both of these patterns only require two lights as well.

catchlights in portraiture clamshell lighting catchlight example
Here you can see the effect that clamshell lighting has on the subject’s eyes.

4) Use novelty light sources

catchlights in portraiture
Ring lights and other novelty light sources produce unique catchlights that can be used for visual interest. Canon 5D Mark III | Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Macro | 50mm | 1/60 sec | f/8 | ISO 1000

There are fair few interesting lighting options on the market that provide unique catchlights. The most prominent of these is the ring light. Ring lights provide on-axis lighting for your subject as you put your camera through the aperture of the ring. The catchlight appears as a ring in your subject’s eyes.

These lights, and other lights like them, are fun to use and can help you achieve interesting lighting in your portraits. 

catchlights in portraiture
Here, you can see the distinct ring shape of the catchlight made by a continuous ring light.

One caveat for these novelty light sources: While a lot of people really love the effect they produce, a lot of people really hate it, and are very vocal about how much they hate it. Depending on the purpose and the audience of your images, novelty light sources may not be the right choice. 

The end

Taking control of your catchlights can be a great way to help you get the most out of your portrait photography. Hopefully, you see how easy and impactful this can be. It’s also a lot of fun.

Chasing catchlights in portraiture can lead you to a lot of interesting scenarios and lighting setups that you may not find, or come up with, by other means. 

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What is Burst Mode and How Can it Benefit Your Photography?

When it comes to photography, timing can be everything. Whether you are photographing a high-speed car or a static landscape, knowing when to press the shutter button is all-important. But the average human reaction time to a visual stimulus is 0.25 seconds, making photographs of brief opportunities somewhat difficult. Fortunately, when frantically depressing the shutter button just doesn’t cut it, there’s burst mode.

Let’s take a speedy look at burst mode, and how it can benefit your photography.

burst mode photography 737
Burst mode is great for capturing fast-moving subjects. 1/250s | f/9 | ISO 160

What is burst mode?

Burst mode is also known as continuous shooting mode or continuous high-speed mode. It’s a camera function that allows you to make a series of photographs in quick succession. With burst mode activated, a photographer can hold the shutter button down and the camera will take multiple photographs, minimizing the interval between shots.

burst mode photography cockatoo
I used burst mode to capture this moment of a cockatoo eating grass seed. 1/8000s | f/5.6 | ISO 500

When is burst mode used?

Burst mode can be used at any time, but it’s especially useful for fast-moving subjects and fleeting opportunities. Burst mode records moments much faster than capturing an event manually frame-by-frame. This increases the chance of making successful photographs of short-lived moments.

What is Burst Mode and How Can it Benefit Your Photography?
Handholding with extension tubes can be tricky. Using burst mode is one way to increase the ratio of sharp macro images. 1/100s | f/6.3 | ISO 100

Burst mode is often viewed as a setting best suited to photographing high-action sports events. But street photographers, for example, may use the mode to anticipate interesting photographic opportunities. Burst mode is also great for macro and wildlife photography and for capturing the nuanced expressions of subjects in portraiture.

How to use burst mode

Activating burst mode can vary depending on the camera. For my Canon 5D Mark II, I activate continuous shooting by pressing the dedicated AF•DRIVE button on my camera and selecting continuous shooting on the main screen with the quick control dial. If you aren’t sure how to activate burst mode, consult your manual or have a look online.

burst mode icon on a canon 5D mk II camera
The burst mode icon displayed on a Canon 5D MK II. 1/60s | f/9 | ISO 500

With burst mode engaged, you’ll also need to ensure you set the right focus mode. For burst mode photography, it’s best to shoot in continuous focusing mode. Known as AI Servo on Canon and AF-C on Nikon, continuous focus will constantly track moving objects, helping to maintain sharp focus while burst mode is activated.

Finally, set your camera settings (shutter speed, aperture, and ISO) accordingly, and you are ready to go! Focus on a subject, depress the shutter button, and the camera will take a burst of images as long as the shutter button is held down (to an extent; see below).

The technical bits of burst mode

There are a few aspects that govern the performance of continuous shooting. The speed of a camera’s burst mode can depend largely on the camera itself. While some cameras operate at two or three frames per second (fps), higher-end cameras can perform at 8+ fps per burst.

In addition, burst mode photographs are saved to a shot buffer before they are transferred to your memory card. The size of the camera’s shot buffer and memory card determines how long you can shoot in burst mode, and the writing speed of any images taken. For example, with a UDMA card, my Canon 5D Mark II can shoot a burst of 310 large JPEG files.

Burst mode bee
Burst mode is good for capturing fleeting moments. 1/160s | f/6.3 | ISO 400

However, if I want to shoot in RAW, the buffer has the capacity for 13 images per burst with a UDMA card. This is important to know when planning a shoot as the requirement for a longer burst will depend on your willingness to shoot in JPEG.

Another option to improve the length of a burst is to change the camera’s frames per second setting. Not all cameras have this option. However, selecting a slower burst mode will maintain your burst for longer, but with a greater interval between each shot.

An additional aspect to keep in mind when using burst mode is battery life. Shooting in burst mode can drain the life of a battery faster than with single-frame shooting. If you plan to use burst mode frequently over the course of a shoot, it could be prudent to take an extra battery or two along with you.

Conclusion

Whether you’re photographing a family portrait with active kids, capturing a flock of birds in flight, or covering a sporting event, burst mode can snap up the moments that could otherwise be missed in single-shooting. By setting your camera to burst mode, you can anticipate events and make a series of exposures without worrying so much about reaction time.

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Photo Editing with Lightroom Mobile

Lightroom Mobile has been around for many years, with the earliest version dating all the way back to 2014. While it is not as popular as its traditional desktop-based counterpart, Lightroom Mobile has grown into a capable and feature-packed editing tool that can hold its own against many other programs.

Editing with Lightroom Mobile isn’t quite the same as editing on Lightroom Classic. But if you take the time to learn, you’ll find that it is up to almost any task you can throw at it.

The first thing to understand when working with Lightroom Mobile is that it’s not just a mobile version of Lightroom Classic. Lightroom Mobile was written from the ground up to work with phones and tablets, and that meant Adobe had to re-imagine the entire user interface.

Design considerations were also made for the types of edits that people are likely to do on a mobile device. Screen size, touch targets, editing, and navigation; no stone was left unturned when Lightroom Mobile was developed.

As such, using Lightroom Mobile involves a jarring transition for people used to the desktop version, though if you have a mobile-first workflow you might be used to it. Even so, understanding a few basic tips and techniques for editing with Lightroom Mobile can improve your workflow a great deal.

Understanding the interface

The first thing you will notice when editing a photo in Lightroom Mobile is that the interface is quite different from Lightroom Classic. Gone are the Library, Develop, and other modules. You will also not find the traditional panels like Basic, Detail, Effects, etc. In their place is a series of buttons and icons along with some words to tap on.

Editing with Lightroom Mobile screenshot
The basic editing interface for Lightroom Mobile. Most of the editing tools are on the right side and can be activated by touching and tapping.

All the icons may be a bit overwhelming at first, but if you start at the top left and work your way around clockwise things start to make sense. Tap the Edit button to switch between the different modes available to you.

Editing with Lightroom Mobile screenshot
Tap the Edit button to switch between modes. This is sort of like moving between the traditional Library, Develop, Print, and other modules in Lightroom Classic. However, these modes in Lightroom Mobile serve very different purposes.

These modes come in handy when you want to cull images, assign keywords, and otherwise speed up your workflow. They are not particularly useful for editing, but I do recommend familiarizing yourself with them by experimenting on your own.

Moving towards the top right you will see more icons. Tap the question mark to get help, the up arrow to share an image, and the cloud to see the sync status of your Lightroom Mobile images. The three dots inside a circle is where things start to get interesting, and where you can start to get an understanding of the depth of Lightroom Mobile.

Editing with Lightroom Mobile screenshot
The three-dots-in-a-circle icon lets you access some advanced features you might recognize from Lightroom Classic.

It’s important to keep your expectations in check; this is not Lightroom Classic. If you are looking for a mobile version of Lightroom that replicates the desktop version, you are in for a big disappointment. But if you want a solid tool that lets you do a lot of editing on your mobile device, this is where things start to get really interesting.

You can use the three-dot menu to copy/paste settings, create an editing preset, and even specify custom gestures by scrolling down and tapping the Settings button. You can also use the View Options button to toggle the histogram and show/hide photo information when editing.

Tablet vs phone

All the screenshots so far have been for Lightroom Mobile on a phone. The interface is similar on a tablet, but the added screen real estate puts a lot more information and options at your fingertips.

Editing with Lightroom Mobile screenshot iPad
Lightroom Mobile on a tablet has all the same tools and options as on a phone. The added screen real estate allows for more information to be displayed, while editing tools are grouped slightly differently.

In terms of photo editing, the main difference between a phone and a tablet is that the global edits are grouped together in a single icon. The icon with three sliders in the top-right corner is where you tap to access global edits like Light, Color, Effects, Detail, Optics, and more. Tap any of these to get a series of sliders that you can adjust with your finger, and watch as your changes are instantly applied to the image.

Editing with Lightroom Mobile screenshot iPad
The extra room on a tablet means you get a lot more information and options on the screen.

The larger size of a tablet means that you can see the entire photo as you apply your edits, with plenty of room to move sliders and adjust parameters. This is my preferred method of editing with Lightroom Mobile, though plenty of people like using a phone. Either way is fine, as long as you find an option that works for you.

Tapping to edit

The true depth of Lightroom Mobile is further revealed with the vertical column of icons on the right side. This is where you can dive deep into the editing tools and perform all manner of intricate adjustments similar to those in Lightroom Classic.

(Note that these same icons appear in a horizontal row at the bottom of your screen if you hold your phone in portrait mode.)

Editing with Lightroom Mobile screenshot

Already you can start to see the sheer volume of editing options available to you in Lightroom Mobile, but that’s not all. Tap and scroll on the vertical row of icons to reveal even more.

Editing with Lightroom Mobile screenshot

If the icons seem confusing, one trick you can use is to simply rotate your mobile device from landscape to portrait mode. This shows brief descriptions beneath each icon which helps if you ever start to feel overwhelmed.

The simplest way to learn more about these tools is to just start tapping them and experimenting. In true Lightroom fashion, none of your edits are permanent; the Undo button will always let you step back to your previous edit. The Reset button will erase all your changes entirely, and you can even step back in time to a specific version of your photo by using the clock icon just above the Reset button.

Selective and global editing

There are two basic types of edits in Lightroom Mobile: selective and global. Selective edits are adjustments applied to specific portions of an image. Global edits are applied to the entire image. If you were to compare it to Lightroom Classic, selective edits are tools such as the Graduated Filter, Radial Filter, and the Adjustment Brush. Global edits include any of the Basic Panel adjustments along with features such as Detail, Color, Effects, the Tone Curve, etc.

To illustrate the touch-based workflow inherent to Lightroom Mobile, my favorite example is the Selective Edit tool. Tap the round dot icon at the very top of the panel on the right side to bring up the Selective Edit interface.

Editing with Lightroom Mobile screenshot
Tap the blue “plus” icon in the top left corner to create a new brush or filter adjustment.

At this point, you might think you can start tapping on the photo. But, if you try it, nothing happens. Tapping on the icons on the right side doesn’t do anything either.

Why? Because before you can start editing, you have to create a new selective edit, which you can do by tapping the blue “plus” icon in the top left corner. This lets you select from three types of brushes: Adjustments, Radial Filter, and Graduated Filter. Tap to select one of these options.

Editing with Lightroom Mobile screenshot
After choosing a specific type of selective edit, tap and drag to apply it to your image.

Now you’re ready to start editing! Tap and drag your finger around the screen to see your brush or filter applied instantly with buttery smoothness. After your adjustment or filter is in place, tap one of the icons on the right side to add a specific edit: white balance, sharpness, etc. You might be surprised at how quickly you can do editing with Lightroom Mobile if you are used to the desktop interface, which can be a bit sluggish at times.

Editing with Lightroom Mobile screenshot
Use the icons on the right to choose what parameters are adjusted in the edit: white balance, exposure, etc.

At this point you might notice one common theme with all the pictures in this article: They are in landscape orientation. Lightroom Mobile lets you edit in either portrait or landscape, and the interface automatically adjusts according to how your phone is positioned.

Editing with Lightroom Mobile screenshot portrait orientation
Editing can be done in horizontal or vertical orientation, and the interface adjusts automatically based on how you hold your device.

After applying a selective edit, you will see a blue diamond appear on your image. Tap on that to bring up the selective edit, and also to see a red overlay which indicates where the edit was applied. As with Lightroom Classic, your selective edits can be altered at any time or removed altogether.

The key thing to remember about editing with Lightroom Mobile is that you can’t permanently mess anything up. Just like the standard desktop version of Lightroom, all your edits are nondestructive, which means you can revert to a previous state of your image at any time.

The Selective Edit tool is a great example of how the basic Lightroom Mobile workflow functions: You tap on an editing tool, and then tap to implement the edit or alter its parameters. Global edits function in the same manner, except they are applied to the whole photo and not just specific portions. It’s not too difficult once you get the hang of it, which for most people is a matter of mere minutes.

If you have an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, Lightroom Mobile is included in the price, and I recommend giving it a try. Even if you just use it to speed up your workflow rather than in-depth editing, it’s still a powerful arrow to have in your photography quiver. Editing with Lightroom Mobile is a fun process that, while not quite on par with the in-depth options in Lightroom Classic, is certainly worth a look. Or a second look if it’s been a while since you last checked it out.

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