Posted by: In: Lightroom, Printing 17 May 2017 0 comments Tags: , ,

So after a bit of a disastrous calendar last year, I decided to make my own. Why would I do that? Well my reasons are…
* Shiny paper is hard to write on with anything other than a felt tip.
* Many off the shelf calendars come with bespoke settings (often 1 photo up top, with calendar below) that you can’t edit.
* Many calendars also don’t come with useful important (UK) dates like Bank Holidays etc.

I’m lucky in that I have a decent quality printer that can print A3. A3 is about the right size for our wall space and has room for an A4 calendar on the bottom and an A4 space above for photos. This could be done just as easily on double sided A4 with the hinge in the middle.

This assumes you have Lightroom, a printer, and a bit of a creative head.

 

Step 1: Make the calendar

To use the print module efficiently, we need an image of the actual calendar month. I used Calendarpedia because it’s a UK site and can auto-add things like Bank Holidays. Their calendars can be downloaded as Word docs, which I did, so that I could go and add birthdays and anniversaries in type, rather than hand write them on in my illegible scrawl. You need to download one Word doc (or pdf) per month. Once you’ve finished editing the calendar, save each month as a pdf file. This will keep it high quality and A4 (landscape) sized.

 

Step 2: Convert pdf to jpeg/tiff/png & import into LR

Lightroom can’t work with pdfs unfortunately so you need to convert the months to an image format. I used Photoshop (open the pdf then save it as a high quality jpeg) but there are various free online sources for doing this. Once it’s converted, import the calendar month images into Lightroom.

 

Step 4: Create a Collection

I created a collection set of “2017 Calendar” with a single collection inside it for each month. Into each month, I then added the appropriate calendar page.

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Step 5: Find Images

I then went through my library, adding images for each month that were appropriate. Your creative vision has no limit here. Better to add loads and remove later. I used people’s birthdays as a guide, anniversaries, pet birthdays, holidays etc. The great thing about the LR print module is that you can add as many photos as you want, in whatever shape you want.

 

Step 6: Create Print

For each month, I then set up an A3 custom package and built the calendar page. Remember to make sure that you leave space at the top of the package for the holes you’ll use to tie it all together. To add images, simply drag them on to your A3 sheet and place them where you want. Images can be resized with drag handles (remember to hold Shift to constrain the proportions) You can send back & forward with the right click menu on any image.
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Step 7: Tie It All Together

I used a wire binding kit to bind mine, but you could easily punch a hole through the tops of all the months and tie off with ribbon or something more creative. I bought a wire kit from Joyce (direct – avoid inflated eBay prices!) and unfortunately then had to order separate wires from Amazon as the supplied ones weren’t man enough for the job. The kit comes with 6mm wires as standard, but this will only hold 2400 gsm worth of paper. I was using 285gsm paper, and 12 of those tops out at 3420gsm so I had to order 10mm wires just to be safe. The Joyce kit is pretty nice for binding one sheet at a time (it’s not tough enough to do multiple sheets of heavy grade photo paper) and comes with a thumb punch. I went for the heavier kit (this one) as I wanted the leverage of the bar type handle and a sturdier overall machine.

Posted by: In: Lightroom, Printing 05 Mar 2017 0 comments Tags: , , , ,

I teach now – hence a long break from Shuttercount, and one of the questions I often get on my Lightroom course, is “what resolution do I need to have to be able to print at xxx size?” or “what size can I print with my camera?”

Some people say you need 300dpi for a print, others say “72 dpi for web”. Both myths.

The Lightroom export module allows you to choose many different options when outputting a file for single use. But before we look at resolutions, lets look at what’s going to be looking at your images –

 

The Human Eye.

Assuming 20/20 vision, the average eye can resolve 876dpi at about 4 inches. This is the closest detail resolution you can see if you really scrutinise an image up close. As we move back further away from an image, that number goes down – and it goes down quite dramatically. For example:

At a standard reading distance (for example 12″) the eye can only resolve about 300 dpi.
At a standard monitor distance (for example 30″) the eye can resolve about 115dpi.
At a TV viewing distance (for example 6 feet) the eye can resolve no better than 50dpi.
Looking at a cinema screen distance (about 40 feet) the eye can’t do any better than 7dpi.
(Source)

So viewing distance is a huge factor in determining how big you can go. Let’s look at the print itself.

 

Physical Limits

An image is (very basically) made up of pixels – the number of which you can work out from your camera specs. My Fuji X-T1 has a resolution of 4896×3264.
A printer can only print at a certain resolution. My Epson can print at a max resolution of 720dpi so I can’t go higher than that. In reality, my eyesight renders every image I print acceptably sharp at close scrutiny at 360dpi, so 360dpi is the absolute highest quality I will ever need.

Dividing the longest edge of the sensor (4896) by 360 gives me 13.6″ on the longest edge as the biggest I can print with superb – up close – quality.

Most of my prints go on walls though, so with a viewing distance of 30″ assumed, my 4896 sensor will now print to (4896/115) a whopping 42″ on the longest side (115 dpi).

So without any sizing, it’s quite easy to determine what resolution is “best” for you.

Resolution (dots per inch) = sensor size (pixels on longest edge) / size (inches)

So if you want to print to 8 feet with your X-T1 the resolution will be 4896 / 96 or 51ppi – perfectly acceptable for viewing at 6 feet and beyond.
If you wanted a billboard that could be viewed at 40 feet without loss of detail, you could print to a huge (7 = 4896/x) 58 feet along the longest side!

 

Software Limits

We can go even bigger though using resizing algorithms. The method above will result in your software neither adding or subtracting pixels from your image. Going smaller is quite straightforward as Lightroom is excellent at downsizing. Using the examples above, when I print an A4 image from my X-T1, LR tells me that my dpi is 463 (10.5″ image size with small border divided into 4896 pixels). The printer only “does” 360, so some bits have to be lost & I can’t visibly determine what they are.

Going up though is a bit more hit and miss. Lets say I wanted to make a 20″ print. 4896/20 = 244dpi, but if I wanted better resolution (say 300dpi), I’d need to “add” 56dpi in order to get that. The software would need to artificially create pixels to compensate. This isn’t something I want to do and in this case, I’d feel that 244dpi is an acceptable print resolution for an image that big.

 

Screen Use

Monitors, TVs and tablets (and phones) are slightly different. They already have a “size” in pixels which may be independent of the size of the screen. My 38″ TV has a 1024×768 resolution whereas my 24″ monitor has 2560×1440. So it’s possible to have more pixels in a smaller space (the iPhone 7 has a 760 x 1334 display in a 4″ screen which is better than my TV!) Because of that…

For screen display, “inches” are irrelevant.

No need to set resolution when exporting for screen use. Untick the resolution box

No need to set resolution when exporting for screen use

As an example, a 1000px image would take up my entire TV screen (30-odd inches) but that same image would only take up half of my PC monitor (12″). When exporting an image for use on a screen, consider only the number of pixels in it. In the Lightroom export module, that means ignore the DPI box.
Most browsers will resize an image to fit, so it can be tempting to upload full resolution images. However these can easily be downloaded and printed out by someone else so what resolution should you upload to avoid people being able to print?

Well, if we assume that people want a decent image quality of at least 200ppi we can do some more maths.

If you export your images at 500px they will look tiny on a high resolution monitor (they’ll fill a quarter of my screen) but they will only print out to (500/200) 2.5″ on the longest side. That’s pretty small and useless.

If you export your images at 1000px they will look ok on a high resolution monitor (they’ll fill a half of my screen) but they will only print out to (1000/200) 5″ on the longest side. That’s quite a big difference.

If you export your images at 2000px they will look great on a high resolution monitor (they’ll fill almost all of my screen) but they will print out to (2000/200) 10″ on the longest side. That’s a decent free print for someone. Even at magazine quality 300dpi, that’s a 6.6″ print!

So the upshot of this is that there’s no definitive answer. It depends on what you’re trying to do with your images.

 

Summary

In summary, most modern cameras today are capable of excellent quality images printable to any appropriate size for the viewing distance. Even my monitor (2560×1440) is even capable of getting game screenshots that will print out brilliantly to A4 and excellent (won’t stand close scrutiny) to A3. And that’s effectively only a 3.6MP camera!

Game screenshots from a decent monitor will have enough resolution to physically print.

My Spitfire being chased down in War Thunder

Welcome to part 4 in my ongoing series of articles about clearing up your photo collection. In part 1, we discussed organising our photos into annual folders, with other images (Assets, Screenshots, Family Neg Scans, Document scans etc) in separate folders. In part 2, we discussed Lightroom catalogue organisation and template catalogues as well as some ideas for labelling. In part 3 we went through the process of importing photos into a catalogue and making critique passes through them to whittle them down to manageable chunks. We also discussed exporting our absolute best images into a Portfolio folder.

Today we’re going to look at the Portfolio and how to whittle down our Portfolio shots from all the ones we’ve exported to the absolute best of the best.

In part 5, we’ll look at some presentation options.

What is a Photography Portfolio?

phototypesA photography portfolio should be a a collection of your absolute best photos. I don’t want to get caught up in sematics here, but your Lightroom Portfolio catalogue could contain many different portfolios. I started by cataloguing my images by Photogtaphy Type. I gave each “Type” of photography has its own portfolio.

What do you want to do with your portfolio? If you want to earn money and generate work from it, I’d strongly suggest reading other sites as I am not (and have no desire to be) a pro photographer. I just want to have a consistent set of 20-30 of my best images for each of the photography types I shoot.

I broke down my photography types into the groups you see to the right. There’s no definitive “right” way to do this, but I’d keep your groups separate. As you can see from my (half-finished) screengrab of Lightroom here, I have classified many different photography types.

By breaking down all my photos into Types, I have made it a bit more manageable. So far I’ve completed my Street Photography portfolio (you can see it here). All others are still a work in progress. As you can see I still have a fair bit of work to do in trimming down my Landscape photos.

What about my favourite photos?

Some photos may be your favourites for personal reasons but they may not belong in a portfolio. The most common would be family shots – they may not be brilliant technical shots, but they’re important. I am planning to do a Family Portfolio Catalogue for these shots.

Why So Many Catalogues?

So why do I have so many catalogues? Why have another folder full of duplicated images?

First, I can keep track of my best photos from across all the years without having one massive catalogue. More importantly though, I can keep my original files safe in their yearly folder and only make edits to the photos in the portfolio folder. My Street Photography portfolio above shows 81 photos. In reality, there are only 37 separate images. The rest are virtual copies with different editing techniques. Trying to manage all these copies in a huge “one catalogue” system would simply overwhelm my small brain.

TL;DR Please

Here’s the process for the post-it

  1. Export all “Portfolio” photos from your annual catalogue(s)
  2. Import all photos from the Portfolio folder into the Portfolio catalogue
  3. Create a keyword set of your photography types
  4. 1st pass of all photos: Keyword them with your photography type
  5. Start with Type 1 (e.g. Portraits)
    1. 2nd pass of all Portraits: “x” the rubbish
    2. 3rd pass: Red photos to work on later, Yellow on B&W, Panoramas, Composites and HDR also get labelled
    3. 4th pass: One photo at a time – Keyword it
  6. Repeat for Type 2 (e.g. Landscapes)
  7. Once all are complete, you can leisurely fine tune your portfolio
    1. Rate each photo: 1* ok, 2* pretty good, 3* not bad, 4* very good shot, 5* Your best shot ever.
    2. Delete all the 1* shots!
    3. Try and find a consistent processing “style”
    4. Display finished portfolio (online, prints or book)

Getting Started

The first thing to do if you haven’t done it is export your Portfolio keyworded images from your annual catalogues into your Portfolio image folder. In the Export function settings, under the File Settings tab, change the drop down to “Image Format: Original” This will  preserve the lossless DNG/RAW format. If you have a lot of images, I’d suggest having annual folders inside your portfolio, but that’s up to you.

Now you have a folder full of images, you need a catalogue. Copy/Paste your template Lightroom catalogue and rename it to Portfolio. This time, because you’ve already exported the photos, you can just “Add” the photos from your Portfolio catalogue. Once you’ve done that, create a keyword set as shown below. Choose photography types that best represent your categories.

keywordset

Now you can go through every photo in your new Portfolio catalogue. This is an opportunity to get rid of the stuff that doesn’t come up to scratch. You’re now looking at your best stuff. Remember that you have copies of these photos in their original location so it’s OK to just delete them here. As you go through the photos, if you’re keeping it, attach one or more Photography Type keywords to the image.

Working With Your First Type

Taking your first Photography Type (I’d start with a smaller sized group, in my case Street Photography) set up a filter to filter for just these photos. Now that we can see all our Street photos in one place, we can go through them again, weeding out the shots that aren’t amazing. Or very good. Or whatever criteria you want to apply. At this stage, you’re probably looking to reduce the number of photos to less than 50 distinct images (different processed versions of the same image don’t count!). Here’s my finished Street Photography portfolio.

portfolio

  • Photos flagged in a colour are exempt from the photo count. The red ones are images that I think have potential but need further work.
  • Photos flagged green/blue/purple (composite/hdr/panorama) also get no stars until they are finished, at which point they lose the colour label (unless they’re B&W)
  • Everything (apart from non-yellow colour labelled images) gets a star from 1 to 5 in order of decency. I then delete all the 1 star shots!
  • All multiple copies of the same photo are grouped together in a “stack”

Keywording

keywordsThe next task is to keyword your images. Keywording helps in many ways, but most importantly, it can be included in the EXIF data if you upload it anywhere. That makes the photo easier for other people to find which can help with Stock photography. I don’t keyword anything that’s (non-yellow) colour labelled as I’m still not sure it’s staying in the portfolio.

When keywording, the best advice I ever read was to say “Describe the photo in one sentence.” Then pick out the important words.

The groups to the left aren’t perfect but cover most bases.

  • Action: All the verbs… Smiling, running, looking, holding, laughing…
  • Colour: Red, green, yellow… If there’s a prominent colour in the scene
  • Concept: Less tangible aspects to an image: Love, humour, beauty, irony, autumn…
  • Effect(s): Photographic effects as well as natural: Reflections, cross processed, silhouettes, long exposure…
  • Event: Holiday, wedding, funeral(!), birthday, Christmas
  • Land: Field, leaf, moon, river, sky…
  • Object: Prominent objects in a scene
  • People: man, woman, child… Also I include parts of people – hands, hair, head…
  • Photography Type: Should be done already!
  • Places: Yosemite, Grand Canyon, London…
  • Structures: Church, Cafe, Hotel, Bridge…
  • Transport: Plane, Train, Automobile….

I can’t get Lightroom to combine similar words so I stick to lower case and plural unless the singular is really necessary. As an example, “A woman sitting on a bench in Delamere Forest, eating her lunch” would get reduced to woman (People), sitting (Action), bench (Object), delamere (Places), forest (Land) and maybe I’d add food (object) and trees (land)

Once you’ve done all of these steps for your Street Photography portfolio (for example) you then repeat it for the next photographic type. Continue until you’re done.

Fine Tuning the Portfolio

Once you’ve completed the above tasks, you’re probably going to have a bunch of red labelled photos. To properly finish a portfolio, you need to work through your best images. And that’s where your time is best spent if you’ve got an evening to spare, and you want to work on your photography.

Finding a consistent processing style is also a very good idea. Photographers like Martin Parr, William Egglestone, & Simon Marsden all have a very distinct “style” to their images which really sets them apart and means that their images when viewed together all work very well. The temptation to continue to mess around with photos is strong with me but that means nothing is ever finished to my satisfaction. Finding a processing style, sticking to it and then leaving it alone is key I think to maintaining a good body of work.

Once the portfolio is finished, what then? I have a Flickr account but it’s clogged with all sorts of junk. I wanted a place to just show single bodies of work/projects. To that end, I went looking. I’ll reveal my findings in the last post in the future.