Straightening Sloping Horizons

May 08, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Correcting Sloping Horizons


The one thing that I notice immediately when viewing an image is a sloping horizon and for me it instantly puts an image offside because I can’t see past the sloped horizon regardless of how good an image is.

When you place an image in a public space like an online gallery then, it must have the fundamentals right. I’m not talking about intensive Photoshop treatment but, just basic corrections.

NOTE* an image can also be sloping even if the horizon is not visible

So, I thought I’d put together a quick guide on straightening images in Adobe Camera RAW or Photoshop. Sorry, I don’t do LightRoom but, if you do then the Camera RAW section will be fairly similar.

Straightening an Image - Adobe Camera RAW (ACR)

  • In Adobe Bridge, on the RAW image you wish to straighten, double click or right click and select ‘Open in Adobe Camera RAW…’ from the menu to open the image. Please note that if you double click the image then Photoshop will start to open but the ACR interface will pop up before it fully opens in Photoshop.
  • In the ACR window, in the right hand column, ensure that the ‘Iris’ icon is selected.

Image 1Image 1






  • On the Toolbar at the top of the screen, look for the ‘Straighten Tool’ in the shape of a spirit level.

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  • The pointer on the screen will now change to a straight edge tool.







  • The image will still be at an angle but it will now have a crop box around it. You will notice that the crop box will be drawn within the bounds of the image and this is the result of the image after it has been rotated. Please note you will lose some detail off the edges and if this is an issue then you should shoot using the camera level and avoid having to straighten the image at all.
  • You can adjust the crop handles as necessary and then double click within the crop box to accept it. Please note that if you click on the crop tool again, the image will re-acquire its original angle with the crop box around it. This is because the image hasn’t actually been adjusted until you go ahead and click ‘Open Image’ or ‘Done’. Even after clicking ‘Done’ the image can be returned to its original state because the changes are actually contained in a sidecar file.

Straightening an Image - Photoshop

  • In Photoshop you have two choices, you can either straighten the image using the ‘Ruler’ tool or you can open the image back in ACR using the ‘Camera RAW Filter’ and use the previous technique. Please note that this is only available in the very latest Photoshop versions.
  • To do this, press ‘CTRL J’ to create a new duplicate layer then select ‘Camera RAW Filter’ from the ‘Filter’ menu. Then follow the steps in the previous article.
  • To use the ‘Ruler’ tool, with the image open in Photoshop, look in the toolbar down the left side of the screen for the ‘Eyedropper’ icon. Click and hold the left mouse button on the eyedropper and a list of tools underneath should be shown and whilst still holding the mouse button, move the pointer onto the ‘Ruler Tool’ and release the button.

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  • The icon on the toolbar should now change to the Ruler tool and there should be some new options on the information bar at the top of the screen above the image.






  • When you move the mouse pointer onto the image the arrow should now have a small ruler next to it. To straighten the image you can now use the same method as in ACR, click and hold the left mouse button and drag it across the reference points. When you have it aligned correctly, release the mouse button and the line should remain on the screen.








  • Also, the options in the information bar at the top should have now become active.






  • These options are self-explanatory, select ‘Use Measurement Scale’ to give you a grid to help align the image, use ‘Clear’ to remove the line and start again or select ‘Straighten Layer’ to straighten the layer. The term layer is used because when we clicked the ruler tool, Photoshop automatically created a duplicate layer.

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  • Please note that if you use this option, then Photoshop will attempt to fill in the gaps at the corners created by rotating the image so you will need to check each corner to ensure it has done a reasonable job of filling in the space. In this case it has not rendered the sky very well so you can either crop this out or try to fix it using the tools available.

As with all Photoshop processes, there are a few ways of achieving the desired effect for e.g. you can also straighten images using the crop function in both Photoshop and ACR but that's for another blog post



Photoshop or LightRoom - My Take on it All

April 25, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

The Photoshop versus LightRoom debate has been raging since LightRoom was released and quite frankly there isn't a right or wrong answer but I'm sick of it all. The simple fact of the matter is that people like to bicker over who is right and who is wrong and we see this with Ford and Holden, Nikon and Canon and it isn't going to go away regardless of what I say here. However, I will say that there are certain things in life that have a cult following and to me some users of LightRoom fit into that category. Apple, Elon Musk and Tesla Cars, Hitler and the Pope are all leaders of cults and even though Adobe are not, I think that LightRoom users may well be.

You see, in the immortal words of John Cadogan anyone can own a device like an Apple computer because they want one and that doesn't make them a cult member. But, people who are fanatical about something and they actually have no idea why, then they are cult members. When nothing else will do for them and you receive a whole load of abuse from them when you say anything about their cult product. I find that this is the case with LightRoom, people get all defensive and give out abuse and to be fair they really have no reason to do that.

Personally, I consider myself to be fortunate, I hate Apple, I would never buy a Tesla car and I certainly do not follow the road of Hitler or the Pope so, it figures that I wouldn't be a lover of LightRoom and that is exactly right, I am not. Thing is, I don't love Photoshop either but, I do find it more intuitive and easier to use and the workflows are certainly more sensible but, I don't worship the ground it walks on and I certainly don't like the quirkiness of Bridge. So, I guess I'm not a cult member but I do feel sorry for people who cannot make their own informed decisions because they are blinded by marketing and cult following clouds their judgement.

So I have a quick response to people who ask me why I don't like Apple and LightRoom and it is this. You can use whatever you like and it doesn't bother me at all however don't come to me for help when your product fails and in the case of Apple, in my experience it will. So I also ask them to look at it subjectively like this, You will not find an Apple MAC simulator on a PC but there are several PC emulators for Apple MACs. Equally, there is not an open in LightRoom option in Photoshop yet there is an open in Photoshop in LightRoom which for me sums the entire debate up. I don't need Apple or LightRoom so why are you even talking to me?

What I can do though is help you make the choice that will best suit you. Not that I'm going to advocate LightRoom, far from it because I use Photoshop but, if what I say about Photoshop doesn't make sense then go and buy LightRoom.

So, what do I use? I use Bridge, Photoshop and Camera RAW and NIK not necessarily in that order. Do I use LightRoom? I do own LightRoom because Adobe's cloud licence says I can use it but, I rarely use it and in fact I think I've opened it 3 times in 2 years and each time it was to use the map module. In fact I've now uninstalled it to clear some space on my computer so the answer now is "no I don't".

So what's my take on it all?

Now the problem for me is this, why would I want to go out and learn LightRoom only to find I need to learn Photoshop as well, its pointless. I did pay about $60 to learn LightRoom online, I watched a 1 hour video on setting up LightRoom and then gave up but, at least I did try to use it. I teach Photoshop and I occasionally get the odd LightRoom user and I always ask them "where are your photographs stored in LightRoom and where is your LightRoom Catalogue located and do you back it up?" usually I am met with a blank stare and shrugged shoulders. Even Mark Galer an Adobe LightRoom Master jokingly says that the 'Skip Backup' is the most widely used button in LightRoom. Can you imagine their horror when I tell them that all of the edited images that you have in your LightRoom library that you have spent years editing will be GONE if that catalogue is lost or corrupted, they just never know the technicalities of the catalogue, where their images are and how they are edited. I want to be able to manage my own files and not have software do it for me, I want to be able to have the skills to do these things myself so that I have an understanding of how it all works and if LightRoom is doing it for me and I don't know what it is doing then what is the point?

That's it folks

Dave Sumner

Editing Software & RAW vs JPEG

April 25, 2018  •  Leave a Comment
Here I will give you some background into the differences between the three main programs used to manipulate images on your computer but first of all, a little info on using RAW as opposed to JPEG.


.This is akin to Holden vs. Ford or Carlton vs. Collingwood with the exception that these cars and football teams are pretty equal things whereas the RAW and the JPEG files are not. You will find thousands of references to this if you search through Professor Google's pages, some are easy to understand and others are more involved. This is just a basic concept of the two to give you an idea of what the differences are. There are many opinions of which is better, what suits you is the decision that you need to make.

The Basic Concept

First of all, the basic concept is identical regardless of the setting, when we push the shutter button on the camera and take an image the camera collects image information onto the sensor in the camera, this is called RAW data. It is what happens next which is where the differences start but in a nutshell if you chose RAW, you will need to make adjustments to the images at a later date (post production) and if you chose JPEG, the camera makes the changes on your behalf there and then. This is partly why we can adjust the RAW file quite extensively whereas the JPEG has very limited adjustments available because the camera has already made them. The other reason is in the way that the Jpeg file is compressed but that's for another day.
After the shutter is pressed, the camera then looks at what setting you have chosen in the menu which is either RAW or JPEG (or both). If the camera is set to RAW, it will save the collected RAW data straight to the memory card in your camera and creates a very small jpeg image to display on the rear screen. If you have set JPEG the camera will apply certain amount of processing to the image such as colour enhancement and sharpening etc. before compressing the image and then saving it to the memory card as a JPEG. If you have RAW + JPEG set then the camera does both of the above and saves 2 x images, 1 x RAW and 1 x JPEG.

A point to note is that your computer will more than likely not be able to see a RAW file as an image unless you have installed the relevant driver, without the aid of a RAW viewing package such as Bridge or the software that came with your camera. However, the computer can see JPEG files without any additional software.

So Where Would You use One Format Over Another?

I always shoot my images in RAW regardless and I have to post process everything for e.g. for competitions or printing etc. I do this because I know that the camera is applying just a standard process to each image whereas I nearly always want to apply several different processes than the camera does. However, I only post process images that I want to use, if I just want to keep them then I just store the original. If I do use an image it gets saved as a TIFF format for processing because I can save it at any point with any layers intact. If required, I then create a JPEG copy of the finished TIFF. This means I now have three files of the same image, the original CR2 RAW file, a TIFF and a JPEG.

In my opinion if your taking an image that could possibly be used for competitions, publication or printing etc. then it should be taken in RAW. The exception to this could be images taken at a party or with friends or images taken on holiday which would be easier (not better) taken in JPEG.

In Post Production, Should I Work on my Original Image or Create a Copy?

There are two scenarios here, the first is that you save your RAW file to your computer and then open it in Photoshop to edit it. The second is that you save your JPEG image to your computer and again open it in Photoshop for editing. Please note that RAW files usually have file extensions such as .CR2 or .NEF or .ARW etc.

Scenario 1 - I have found my original RAW file on my computer using in Bridge and I have clicked to open it to do some post processing in Photoshop (I haven't made a copy). The image has opened automatically into Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) first and I have adjusted some sliders and applied some processes to it such as lens corrections etc. I have then clicked 'Open' and the image has appeared in Photoshop and I have applied quite a few changes to it and I am ready to save the image. In this scenario, if you simply click 'Save' and not 'Save As' Photoshop will still bring up the save dialogue box because Photoshop is not able to save the image back as a CR2 or NEF etc. so you have to specify another file format such as TIFF, DNG or JPEG etc. Therefore it is not possible to overwrite your original RAW file.

However, when you go back to Bridge you will see that the original image has indeed changed and it may have some grey icons in front of it. At this point you'll be thinking that I'm talking gibberish. However, the changes that you see are from ACR and those icons represent what I have done to the image. Rest assured that the changes haven't been made to the original image and are actually contained in a hidden file called a sidecar file, the original actually hasn't changed at all. If you go to Bridge and 'Right Click' on your changed but original image then from the menu select 'Develop Settings/Clear Settings', the original will go back to how it was before you started and is untouched.

Scenario 2 - I'm in Bridge and I can see my original JPEG file and I click to open it in Photoshop to edit it (I haven't made a copy). This time the image opens straight into Photoshop and I make lots of changes. I then click 'Save' and guess what, I've just overwritten my original. Unless you have made a copy first and worked on that or you have a backup of all of your images, then the original file is gone FOREVER.

Therefore, you should always have a backup, (YOU DO HAVE A BACKUP DON'T YOU)  see Backing Up Your Images and you should always make a copy before editing if you are unsure at all.

Adobe Bridge

Adobe Bridge (BR) is used as an interface between the images stored on your computer and Adobe programs such as Camera RAW and Adobe Photoshop. It is file management system that has some additional features but works in a similar way to the Windows Explorer that we see when we double click on our ‘My Computer’ icon but it is more biased towards working with images.

Adobe Camera RAW

You cannot open Camera RAW (ACR) without using Bridge first, there is no icon associated with ACR. It is a RAW converter that will allow you to see and adjust RAW files as well allowing you to batch manipulate many images. For e.g. if you have 100 RAW files that you want to convert to JPEG to upload to a website, instead of doing this one at a time, you can do this in one action on all 100 using ACR. You can make many normal adjustments to images in ACR so it can be used to make many common adjustments without the need to go into the more complicated Photoshop. You can also open Jpegs into ACR and manipulate them if necessary.

Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop (PS) is the main editing software for images. The main difference between ACR and PS for most photographers is the ability to use layers. However, PS can still be used to make the most basic of changes to an image including cloning and sharpening as well as very complex changes using layers and masks. 

Adobe Bridge Tip 1 - Review Mode

April 25, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

When reviewing my images I always review and select them after I've uploaded them to my storage device but, this causes an issue where I have to wait until I get around to it. So, I'm often reviewing hundreds of images at once and this can be a tedious task. Review Mode to the rescue.

So whilst in Bridge I select images that I want to keep by giving them 1, 2 or 3 stars. To help me do this I use the 'Review Mode' option.

To use the review mode and to do this I select a number of similar images that I want to review and select 'Review Mode' from the View\Review Mode menu or under the 'Refine Icon' on the toolbar or by pressing 'Ctrl B'.





Review mode will open a new window and if you have selected more than 4 images, will show them all in a carousel style viewer. You can use the left and right arrow keys to transit through the images and pressing the number keys from 1 to 9 will add either stars or colour labels to your images and a 0 will remove them.

Other features within Review Mode are using the down arrow key to remove images from your selection. This will also have unselected the image when you return to Bridge's normal view.

The Loupe is also available in this mode which will allow you to check for sharpness of images. The loupe will remain in place whilst you flick through the images until you close it.

You can also create collections whilst in this mode and when you create the collection, all of the images that remain in the review mode window will be added to the collection, see my blog about Collections HERE for more information.

To quit Review Mode use the cross at the bottom right or hit the escape key.

Adobe Bridge Tip 2 - Workspaces

April 25, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

The Essentials Workspace and Using Your Own Workspace

Note* You can click the images below to make them bigger

When you first open Bridge it defaults to workspace called 'Essentials' and you can see this when you look at the image below, the orange highlighted area at the top has the word 'Essentials' under it.

What is a workspace I hear you ask? Well it's like the area on a desk or a table where you are doing something, this is your workspace and in Bridge, the essentials workspace is the way in which the screen is laid out.

Personally I don't like this workspace, I want to see more folders on the left and less filters. I want to see less thumbnails and less metadata but a lot more of the preview screen. Now I could use another workspace but they aren't what I want either. I could also adjust this when I open up Bridge but chances are that every time I open Bridge it will be different. So the answer is to create my own workspace so that it is the same all the time.

So, to do this you need to drag the windows around until you find a setup that suits you, you can have several if you wish. Once you have found your setup and got it right then just click the arrow to the right of the workspace list and select 'New Workspace'. Give it a name, make sure both boxes are ticked and then click save. Now your own workspace has appeared at the top and here's mine in the image below.




As you can see the orange highlight now has Dave written under it and this is configured for my use.

NOTE* If your workspace gets moved around or isn't how your workspace should look, then just right click on the workspace name at the top and select 'Reset' from the menu and it will automatically go back to how you originally set it up.

Hope this helps in your Adobe Bridge workflow.

Welcome to my photography blog, here you will find hints, tips and advice as well current topics and other posts. Please feel free to browse through the posts and comment as you see fit but, please keep comments civil and constructive - Thank You
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