Thoughts & Ideas

Adobe Lightroom 3 Noise Reduction

One of the features in the new Lightroom 3 is a much-improved noise reduction algorithm. Lightroom 2’s version, to be blunt, sucked. It helped, to be sure, if you had nothing, and for minor adjustments it was okay. But when you started throwing ISO 3200 images at it, things degraded quickly, and you were pretty much assured of needing to use a third-party noise-reduction plugin (many of which are very good).

So when I upgraded to Lr3, I had to try the new noise-reduction, and frankly, was blown away. There are situations where the third-party plugins are better, but Lr3 is more than up to the task, as you’ll see in this post.

Note: Because Lightroom is non-destructive, and because noise-reduction algorithms tend to take some time to process, I find that Lr3 gets really, really fussy when you’ve turned the NR on beyond a few percent. Best to disable it if you’re doing other things, or you’re going to start tapping fingers on the desk really quickly. A few other features easily induce this behaviour as well (like distortion correction), so it’s not limited only to NR, but something I thought I’d pass on.

Back to Basics: Welcome!

Note: “Back to Basics” is a series consisting of short posts that intend to go back to the basics of photography. Hopefully these articles will be of interest to you – whether you are just beginning in your photography journey, or are an established pro. (View all posts in this series…)


Welcome to the first “Back to Basics” post! This series will cover the basics of photography from exposure to composition in short, bite-size articles. (Well, If anyone knows my penchant for being long-winded, the short part may or may not happen!)

The topics that this series aims to cover are as follows; the list is in no particular order, nor is every topic necessarily guaranteed, and I totally may add some other topics as time goes on.

  • Capturing the Image (the Sensor)
  • Capturing the Light (Exposure)
  • Squeezing the Light (the Aperture)
  • Letting the Light in (the Shutter)
  • Sensitivity to Light (ISO)
  • Measuring the Light (Metering Modes)
  • Positioning the Light (Composition)
  • Rendering the Light (Color and/or lack thereof)
  • Focusing the Light (Focus)
  • Changing Your Perspective (Focal Length, Zooms, Primes)
  • Bending Light Artistically (Bokeh, Depth-of-Field, etc.)
  • And more…

Oh, and just a “geek” moment: the image to the right is just a representation of the programming language I grew up on: Commodore BASIC. Ah, the fond memories of both that computer, and the language, and hence the image. (Back to Basics, get it?)

And with that, I’ll sign-off until the next post! Keep on writing with light!

Creating a Digital Background

I posted this image a long time ago on Smugmug, along with the instructions on how to create something very similar, but I never actually blogged about it. So, I thought I'd share it with you today.

First off, what is a digital background? A digital background is an image that is suitable for placing behind the subjects in an image; thus replacing the original background. The original background might be a green-screen, other studio backdrop, or some other scene entirely.

Smugmug Trick: Adding an Image to the Cart via Link

Note: This article applies only to anyone using Smugmug. As always, use the information at your own risk. If your Smugmug account goes berserk, be sure you know enough to undo anything contained herein. As always, photoKandy Studios isn't liable for anything that might go wrong.

Okay -- legalese done-and-out-of-the-way, we can get on to it.

Sometimes when you're linking to an image on Smugmug, you would like to prompt the user to add the image to the cart immediately, rather than hoping that they will click the "Buy" button, and then click "This Photo". The reasons you might want to do this vary, but I've seen the question asked several times on the customization forums, so I thought I'd share how you can accomplish it.

Telling Secrets: I use AUTO ISO

I know, shame on me, right? I mean, seriously? But yes, I do use AUTO ISO, and happen to use it quite a lot. It's not that much further a step beyond using Aperture or Shutter priority modes, and it can definitely help in lots of situations.

Some Thoughts on the New Lightroom

First of all, I'm in love with Adobe Lightroom. I purchased it when it was around version 2.3 or so, and have kept it up-to-date when Adobe released a new version. I've added plugins that assist my workflow, and I've got a lot of presets and settings tweaked just the way I like them.

When Adobe released the beta of Lr3, I downloaded it just about immediately and played with it. And then I couldn't wait until the final version was released, knowing that it was going to have all sorts of great features, fixes, and improvements. So, naturally, the day it was released, I bought the upgrade and downloaded the software and proceeded to install. And then, once installed, I had to play around.

Since that first night with Lr3, I've done some more work with the new version, and let me say this: hands-down, it's the best version of Lr there's ever been. Does it deal with everything I'd hoped would be dealt with in the new version? No, but it gets really close. So, all that said, here's some thoughts on the new version, and some tips and tricks that might help you get the most out of your new version of Lightroom.

Changing Clothes

If you haven't noticed already, there's a new look to our site! It's not 100% complete (the Blog and Smugmug portions use the old design), but a good portion of the site has been converted to the new look and feel.

(Update 6/14/2010: The Blog has been updated to the new look and feel. Yay!)

There was nothing wrong, necessarily, with the old design. I love that design. But I happen to love this design as well, and I felt it was time for a "change of clothes" for the site. The previous design has been in place for quite awhile, and I'd learned a lot since I first coded the original design. A lot about how best to present a photograph in a site, and a lot about how to better code a site in general.

So, if you haven't already checked it out, go take a peek at the new design and see what you think. Then come back and see why the design evolved the way it did. (Or not. It's up to you. Regardless, please, leave your thoughts!)