Advanced Lightroom – Oakville Camera Club

Tonight at the Oakville Camera Club I did a presentation on Advanced Lightroom.P2170013

As promised, here’s the PDF with active hyperlinks of the presentation.


One extra tip I just learned from watching Photoshop Week this afternoon on

Jared Platt was doing a mini-workshop on Lightroom development tools when he chanced to mention that Lightroom slows up when you’ve uploaded too many presets.

I have hundreds of presets installed on my Lightroom and while the software is running quickly on my MacBook Pro with a solid-state hard drive I will be removing the presets I’m not using tomorrow.

In Photo: That’s Oakville Camera Club president Bill Smith (center) and former Oakvillian and world-class podcaster and general good gal Donna Papacosta (right) of Trafalgar Communications.


What’s So Great About Lightroom?

Since I teach photography to lots and lots of students and camera clubs I never know which photo editing package to use.images

So,  over the years I seemed to have managed to have bought just about all of the most popular ones. For example, I had Photoshop Elements and Picassa on one of my PCs. I got a copy of Nikon’s excellent (but unfortunately discontinued) NX Capture 2 on my MacBook Pro. Because I bought Photoshop Elements way way back when, Adobe offered me a low-cost promotion to buy PhotoShop which I jumped at saving hundreds of dollars. Of course for MAC there’s IPhoto and based on my positive experience with IPhoto’s bookmaking abilities I bought Aperture as well.

There are tons of other smaller photo editors out there and most do the same things.

For example all of them will edit JPG images. Most will work on raw images, TIFFS, DNGs and can handle propriety formats used by the various camera manufacturers. They all will crop, lighten or dark your images. Some come (like LR) come with built in noise reduction software and many will create books, slideshows, albums and output images to web programs like Facebook or web galleries on Flickr or Smugmug.

So all that’s good but what’s so great about Lightroom?italy-5020233

I’ve been using Lightroom since the first days and for years I’ve been using it badly. Not that my images didn’t look great but I wasn’t using half the features of Lightroom (which is now up to version 5.4) and is available from Adobe on a 30-day trial and can be had as a subscription package with PhotoShop for $9.99 per month (which I have). I was sort of like buying a Corvette but never getting out of first gear.

So how did I get better at Lightroom?

Easy. I started to teach classes at photo clubs in how to use Lightroom.  🙂

When you teach two things happen: First I read a couple of Lightroom manuals from front to back and so far I’ve watched over 100 hours of video training on Lightroom (Thanks to Laura Shoe and and then, second, I incorporated what I learned into my own workflow.

So here’s a tiny part of what I’ve learned:

  • Lightroom is nondestructive. (This is huge! LR never touches my original images.)
  • Lightroom is a database. (LR always knows where your images are kept and can find them using word searches.)
  • Lightroom uses presets. (I wasn’t using presets. Dumb! Presets make LR sing and can be bought or created.)
  • Lightroom is fast. (Because LR only makes changes to small data files you don’t need tons of computer power to use it.)
  • Lightroom is cheap. (Compared to PhotoShop LR is a steal and it can do just about everything PS does thanks to plug-in external editing programs.)

If your southern Ontario camera club would like a one-night introduction to Lightroom just let me know. There’s lots to learn and lots to enjoy using LR.

Count Your Blessings – The Healing Power of Photography

Don’t watch this video by the amazing Hailey Bartholomew.

If you don’t cry your eyes out, consider that there might be something serious wrong with you.haileybartholomew

I fell in love with Hailey after she did a photography course. She’s the anti-me when it comes to photography. Where I, as an ageing former news photographer, tend to be overly aggressive and driven in my work, Hailey is everything I’m not including a true video and still photography artist. She’s gentle, intelligent and a philosopher. Me? Not so much!

One of Hailey’s new endeavours is called 365 Grateful and it’s the secret to how to be happy. It’s true. It works.

This is the true power of photography and with Hailey we are in the presence of a living master.

Now go out and shoot something! Feed your creative spirit.

Toronto Camera Club at 125

The National Post has a feature article on page 11 on the upcoming anniversary of the Toronto Camera Club.george_eastman_580x

The Toronto Amateur Photographic Association was started in 1888, the same year according to the newspaper article, that George Eastman introduced the first roll film camera.

This Saturday, Sept. 28 the club will be celebrating this anniversary at the Mount Pleasant Village Harvest Fair from their building at 587 Mount Pleasant.

Free Nighttime Shooting PDF

Here’s a free PFD format publication from the nice folks at Tamron, the lens people, on how to shoot nighttime photographs.Tamron-SP-70-200mm-F2.8-Di-VC-USD-Lens

While the PDF pushes Tamron lenses, (which BTW lots of folks really like and often come up strong when compared to original manufacturer’s offerings even though the Tamrons often sell for hundreds less) the publication will give you an excellent overview of what lens to use for various nighttime challenges like fireworks.

Best of all at the end of the article, there’s a comparison of what different focal lengths from 10mm to 500mm) actually look like when shot with a cropped APS-C sensor equipped camera.


Why We Watch Webinars

I’ve spent the last two days watching family portrait photographer Michele Celentano photographing a family of nine!

Why would a professional like myself take two days to watch someone else teach family photography?

Because even a pro can learn something new.

Celentano is a classical photographer in the mode of Monty Zucker and she’s terrific.

If you want to learn how to shoot portraits and especially family portraits you can buy the three-day workshop downloads from for a special $99 until tomorrow when the regular price of $149 goes back into effect.

BTW if you’ve got Lightroom or Photoshop or Aperture NIK is offering its entire gallery of external editors including Colour Efex Pro, HDR Pro, Silver Efex Pro and Viveza plus its sharpening and noise reduction software for a special $149 price. The whole editing package sells for well over $500 so this is a deal from Google which recently bought NIK.

Airport Carry On

Remember: If you’re in the Greater Toronto Area checkout the post below this one for information on our beginner’s course focusing on digital photography. This non-technical, plain language course will have you shooting radically better images.


On our trip to Brazil I lugged my entire Nikon system (two bodies, six lenses, two flashes, tripod) on my back (Think Tank ShapeShifter bag) through four airports, three countries and miles and miles of Brazilian mountain jungle. It wasn’t fun.DSC_0147

Now with word that some airlines are reducing the weight of carry on luggage to 10 kg this is going to end our ability to carry as much equipment as I did to Brazil (Think the Brazil bag tipped in around 25+ kg.) Carrying all this equipment and the tripod just about killed my wife (Just kidding. She’s sturdier than that!)

So what to do?

My recommendation for the DSLR crowd is to take one camera with something like an 18mm to 200 or 300mm lens and wear it around your neck plus pocket a 50mm f/1.8 lens in a protective lens bag for shooting in available light. My light Nikon D-90 can handle 64-gig memory cards (not all cameras can handle these big cards if they’re what’s called a “class 10” card) which hold 8,000 JPG images or around 4,000 raws. If you’re afraid of having all your images on one card use 16-gig cards which still hold an enormous number of images and download them to your IPad or WiFi your images to your SmugMug or Flickr site but only if you have a no-cost Internet interface. Add a flash in your checked in luggage and a Gorillia mini-tripod and you’re done.

Want to take more equipment?

Then it’s time to add a vacation camera kit to the mix.

Bahamas-0133For quick trips to the Caribbean I take an Olympus XP-15o. I got it on sale for around $200 and it works just fine. The image quality isn’t up to DSLR standards but it’s more than good enough for shots around the pool or in the pool for that matter. Take it out on the beach with abandon (I’d never take my DSLR onto a sandy beach especially if there’s any wind kicking the sand up.) and don’t worry about somebody spilling a drink on it. There are better rugged cameras out there but I picked this one up due to the price.IMG-0029

But my new favourite system for vacation shots is the Olympus Pens.

I’ve got an older E-PL1 (again bought when the dealer was getting rid of this older model for $250 for the body) and a super nice E-PL2 which shoots just about as good as my D-300. Two camera bodies and six lenses fit into a Think Tank Urban Disguise. All of this, including the bag, comes in at seven kilograms well under the 10 kilogram limit.

Now I’m adding a new Olympus E-PL5 which has the same 16-meg sensor as the fabulous and much lauded OM-D E-MR which some have called the camera of 2012. Some reviewers claim that either of these cameras based on sharing the same sensor can outshoot any DX-format DSLR and only full-frame DSLRs shoot better images. Amazing.

The biggest issues I had with my Olympus Pens were they couldn’t keep up when it came to my style of special event commercial photography where I can shoot hundreds of images an hour and thousands in a day. The cameras didn’t focus fast enough or recycle fast enough. The E-PL5 is said to focus instantly and shoots up to 8 frames per second which used to be unheard of except for the most expensive DSLRs (I’m talking cameras that cost $3-$5 K each.). On vacations, the Pens were perfect as either was easy enough for my wife to shoot on auto and I could make them sing on manual.

With DSLR image quality, quick focusing and recycling between shots I might be able to get away with using the Olympus kit on some of the special event I do. That’s a bonus.Intro-1

But here’s the kicker. I am finding it a tough slog to carry two Nikons (both with extra battery grips) with a couple more lenses (usually the very fast and very heavy 17-55mm f/2.8 and the still fairly large 12-24mm f/4 super wide) plus a flash and side battery pack (needed on dull days to light up my subjects) plus a camera bag. This setup weighs in at 20+ kilos.

I often end up walking around just with two cameras, one flash and battery pack on my belt and that’s still around 10 kilos.

So the Olympus kit is half the weight. Yes the Olympus batteries need to be changed out after 300 shots (the Nikons go all day) and there’s no way the flash will keep up in the same way the Nikon will but at the end of the day the Olympus images are just as good (maybe even better as I’m not as tired) as the Nikon images.

And, again on vacation or casual shooting, there’s nothing better.