Category Archives: Tips, Techniques, Guides

Lightroom: Slow Develop Module? Increase RAW Cache

While I can’t say this Adobe Lightroom cache optimization tip did all that much to increase speed for me, I recognize the benefits could be workflow dependent. By default (at least for me), Adobe Lightroom’s RAW cache is configured for 1GB. But, if you have the hard drive space available, why not increase this cache setting? And for an even greater speed boost, if you have a solid state drive (SSD), make sure that is where your cache is located.

Here’s what Adobe has to say.

Every time you view or edit raw images in the Develop module, Lightroom generates up-to-date, high-quality previews. It uses the original image data as its foundation, and then updates the preview for any processing or adjustments that have been applied. The process is a little faster if the original image data is in the Camera Raw cache. Lightroom checks the cache for the original image data and can skip early stage processing if the image data is cached. (Adobe Lightroom – Optimize performance)

To change the cache value (and location), go to Preferences (Edit menu on Windows / Lightroom menu on Mac), then click on the File Handling tab. Near the bottom there is a section called Camera Raw Cache Settings.

adobe-lightroom-camera-raw-cache-settings

Bump up the Maximum Size to whatever value your free drive space can reasonably handle. And change the Location for the cache to an SSD (if you have one available with enough free space). On my MacBook Air, I bumped the cache up to 10GB, but if free space allows, you might want to consider 20GB, 50GB, or more, especially if you have a lot of photos (tens or hundreds of thousands) in your catalog.

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Photography Composition: Use Leading Lines To Anchor Subject

Valley Creek - Valley Forge

In the photo above, you have a classic example of the photographic compositional element known as “leading lines.” The banks of the creek as well as the trees on each side form lines that lead your eye to the edge of the visible creek. In this photo the viewer’s eyes are led from the bottom/middle of the photo to near the top.

Leading lines can perform the simple function in the photo above, in essence becoming the subject of the photo, or part of the subject itself. But leading lines can serve to anchor your main subject in the frame, like in the photo below:

Philadelphia Street Photography - 0943

In the above photo, and starting from the bottom left of the frame, the viewer’s eye is led by the long shadow to the main subject. But there is also a secondary leading line that is the lighter colored pavement. And last, the starburst (sun rays) can also be considered leading lines that serve to anchor the subject from the top of the frame. This is definitely not a conventional (whatever that means) leading lines photograph, but it still illustrates the use of lines and flow in the composition, leading the viewer’s eyes to the main subject. But as I said, leading lines don’t always need to anchor a subject, the line or lines can be the subject, as is the case here:

Valley Forge - 0335

The trail is both the leading lines element and the main subject of the above photo.

And here is another example of leading lines that anchor the main subject, although in this photo, the leading lines are likely to lead the viewer’s eyes away from the subject (depending on where your eyes first hit the photo), but in this case it makes for an effective and interesting composition:

Knox Quarters Stables - 0348

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6 Things I’ve Learned About Street Photography (So Far)

Sidewalk Circulation

Here are 6 things I’ve learned about street photography (so far). I present them to you, the aspiring street photographer.

  1. Stand Still — As you walk the streets, its easy to become overwhelmed by all the potential photography subjects. When you start to experience sensory overload, find an interesting background, or simply a street corner, and then stand and wait. Your subjects will come to you.
  2. Click the Shutter Anyway — There will be that voice in your head telling you that getting this shot might be awkward and uncomfortable. Push yourself to raise the camera to your eye and click the shutter anyway. Passing up these moments makes capturing the “decisive moment” all the more elusive.
  3. Shoot Wide — Don’t be afraid to shoot with a wider lens. It might be tempting to use your long telephoto lens so that you can stay far away from your subject, and possibly go unnoticed. While there’s nothing wrong with using a long lens if you are going for that specific aesthetic, the experience might be less than fulfilling if you are a fan of classic street photography from the likes of Joel Meyerowitz, Garry Winogrand, or the master himself, Henri Cartier-Bresson. Ideal street photography focal lengths are 28mm, 35mm, and 50mm. If you are still apprehensive, start with 50mm, which will allow you to stay the furthest away from your subjects, then graduate to 35mm. But all rules are meant to be broken, that is, assuming you have a good reason to break them. Just don’t let fear be one of those reasons.
  4. Avoid Eye Contact — Okay, this one will be controversial, and there will be some who will give you the exact opposite advice. I’m not saying you need to avoid eye contact or socializing in all situations, but if you are after true candid photography, it requires you to take photos without permission. Most people aren’t going to confront you, but that possibility will always exist with street photography. To help ease the process of capturing candids and avoiding confrontations, try to make it appear that you are looking past your subject. One thing you can do is keep your camera raised to your eye after taking the photo, pretending to shoot something that is just past your main subject. This works best if you are using a camera with a viewfinder (especially DSLRs), but it can also be accomplished even if you are composing your shots with a LCD screen (you just can’t hide behind the camera).
  5. Look For Conversations — I find some of the more interesting street photography photos (see above) in my collection are street conversations. Look for two, three, or more people congregating and conversing, particularly if they are oblivious to their surroundings, and then move in to get your photo. It might be helpful in this situation to have your camera in continuous mode so that you can snap off two or three captures.
  6. Use A Prime Lens — Related to #3, I highly recommend you use a prime (fixed focal length) lens, or alternatively, set your zoom lens to a focal length and leave it there. I can’t tell you how helpful this has been for my street photography. It really helps you to see your shot before you lift your camera when you know exactly what your field of view will be. In this case, using a prime lens is less about optics, and more about simplicity, and that’s why a zoom lens is fine, as long as you can discipline yourself not to actually use the zoom capability. Pick 35mm or 50mm and stay there. If you are out for a couple of hours, maybe shoot 35mm for one hour, then shoot 50mm for the second hour.
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Milkboy At Night, Philly Street Photography

Milkboy

I couldn’t pass up photographing the Milkboy restaurant again, this time at night and in color. This restaurant definitely catches my eye each time I walk by.

And this was my first street photography outing with the Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 prime lens (36mm equivalent on my Nikon D7100), and it performed as well as I expected it to. This photo was taken at f/2.5, 1/125th, 6400 ISO. I only wish I had gone wide open (f/1.4) which would have allowed me to lower the ISO. Even the shutter speed could have been a bit slower. But I was still in “street photography” mode at this point, trying to get a reasonably fast shutter speed at close range without too shallow of depth of field. I simply forgot to adjust the settings when I came upon this scene from across the street (where depth of field would not be an issue). Oh well, the shot still turned out great, and the D7100 is game at 6400 ISO.

This particular scene would probably have worked fine at 1/60th. If I had captured it wide open at an aperture of f/1.4, that may sound like it would result in too shallow a depth of field, but that wouldn’t be the case at this distance at a 24mm focal length. I was probably a good 30+ feet away (across the street). At that distance, at 24mm, and an aperture of f/1.4, the depth of field would have been well over 30 feet (about 10 feet in front, 20 feet behind). That’s the beauty of this lens. Sure, up close, say 5 or 8 feet, the depth of field would be extremely shallow at f/1.4 (no more than 1-2 feet), but at this distance, I need to remember it’s not a problem to shoot wide open, because pretty much the entire scene will be in focus.

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The Introvert’s Guide To Street Photography, Dealing With Fear

Okay, maybe that was a bit too audacious a title. Because this isn’t really a guide, as much as it’s an honest assessment of my social awkwardness in the process of embracing street photography. And notice I said “dealing” with fear. I find you never really get over fear, at least I don’t, but you learn how to deal with it, and put it in its proper place.

I’m not really a people person, and I’m most definitely an introvert. I’m not a person drawn to social situations. In fact, I actively avoid them. But I’ve always been an observer. I’m endlessly fascinated by people, what they do, what they think, how they interact, and I think this is why I’m so drawn to city life in general. Even though I’m an introvert, the fact that people fascinate me is why it makes perfect sense that I got into photography, because it’s yet another way to observe the human condition.

But there’s just one problem, until recently, I mostly avoided photographing people. So how can an introvert start photographing the human condition? (light bulb moment) Ah ha! Street photography! It’s kind of interesting actually, and it is something I find amusing, that it seems even some of the most outgoing people are intimidated by the idea of photographing strangers on the street, yet here I am, Mr. Anti-Social out on the streets, doing just that. And I’m not going to tell you that I’m somehow immune from intimidation, but for someone like me, who is very much social phobic, but who nonetheless wants to photograph people, the street suddenly doesn’t seem so intimidating, especially if I’m ever to fulfill the need to observe and capture the human condition.

But don’t get me wrong, it took me years to get to this point. And even now, I need to talk myself into it. I need to psych myself up. I don’t know if I’ll ever be fully comfortable with it, but maybe being somewhat trepidatious is actually a good thing, as long as it doesn’t completely shut me down and stop me from doing what I love doing (once I’m doing it).

So if you want to get out there on the streets and get those candid shots, I don’t have a formula for you to follow. I don’t have a 7-step plan for how to psych yourself up. I don’t have a magic set of words that will put you in the right mindset. You really do just have to stop thinking, then stand up, then grab your camera, and head to the nearest town center or city and start taking photos. There’s no other way to get there other than to just start doing it. It will be intimidating, it will be awkward, and in fact, you might just face a confrontation or two, but you will also experience a natural high, and a fulfilling satisfaction of doing what you want to do, even when you weren’t sure you could.

Also posted in Deep Thoughts, Photography, Street Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , |