Understanding the Camera Calibration Module in Lightroom

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom relies on the Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) rendering engine to convert camera RAW images. The default color and contrast settings are something called “Adobe Standard” which look different than what you might see on your camera LCD when reviewing your images. However, Adobe offers alternate Camera Profiles which emulate the as-shot settings from many Nikon and Canon DSLRs. You’ll find these settings in the Camera Calibration panel in Lightroom and ACR.

In this example, I have placed an image of a Colorchecker card on the screen so you can see how the colors and contrast change between camera profiles. For this image, I get options based on the Nikon D800 that I used to capture the RAW file. Note that you can only make profile changes to RAW files. If you see “Embedded” under the profile option, it’s because you’re looking at a TIFF or JPEG image in Lightroom. Choose from any of the profile presets in the drop-down menu to change the baseline color and tone curve of your image, and you can fine-tune it with the sliders if you wish.

If you have a ColorChecker card, you can use the ColorChecker software from X-rite to create a custom profile for your camera. Each custom profile is specific to the camera you use to create the image. You can further tweak those profiles using Adobe’s DNG Profile Editor software (free download from www.adobe.com).

Once you have a profile that you like, you might wish to change your defaults to always use that profile going forward. If you do change your default settings, note that ANYTHING you modified in the Develop section gets applied, so keep your adjustments minimal (Calibration, sharpening, lens corrections) so that you don’t over-process your images. Defaults are only applied automatically when you import new images into Lightroom. Existing images will not be changed; you’ll have to adjust them manually or use the “Reset Settings” option in Lightroom to do so.

South Texas Birding Workshop Report 2013

Bewick's Wren

Bewick’s Wren, south Texas. Small species are incredibly hard to photograph unless you are in a blind or hide.

I brought a group of four photographers to south Texas, where we had the opportunity to photograph birds and wildlife from private blinds. In wildlife photography, the challenges are numerous. For birds, especially, it is extremely difficult to get close enough to fill the frame, even with a super-telephoto lens. Here are the main challenges with wildlife/bird photography: Continue reading

Quick Thoughts: 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 AFS G VRII Nikkor lens

It only took 13 years, but we finally have a new 80-400mm AFS G VRII Nikkor. Is it right for you? (Image courtesy Nikon USA)

It only took 13 years, but we finally have a new 80-400mm AFS G VRII Nikkor. Is it right for you? (Image courtesy Nikon USA)

Yesterday, Nikon announced a long-awaited (overdue?) replacement to its 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens. The the original 80–400mm VR has been around since 2000, and for as long as I can remember, enthusiasts have cried out for and AFS replacement. Why? Despite very good optics and excellent zoom range, the AF-D model of the 80-400mm was  slow to focus and as such sub-par for many action and wildlife photographers. Despite its limitations it remained popular lens because it was the least expensive Nikkor with a focal length of 400mm. On a DX-format DSLR body, that translates to an effective field of view of 600mm, making the 80-400 the enthusiast’s choice for wildlife photography. The relatively compact size of this lens made it an ideal option for travel photographers or people wanting to have extra reach on a reasonable budget. Continue reading