Category Archives: Tips, Techniques, Guides

Adobe Lightroom: How To Select Multiple Photos For Import Without Clicking Each Checkbox

Adobe Lightroom is a fantastic darkroom editor and photo organizing application for photographers who want to spend more time taking photos instead of sitting at a computer editing them. And the workflow in Lightroom is mostly straightforward, but something that has always bugged me is the Import screen. Why is it so limited?

When you launch the Import screen and point it to a folder location, it defaults to selecting every image in that location. Luckily there is a “New Photos” feature for importing new photos not already imported into Lightroom. That one feature might be good enough for most people. Also, don’t forget about the “Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates” checkbox on the right-hand side of the Import screen, that can be useful as well.

But for me, I only want to import the best of the best. I know some use Lightroom to catalog and organize every single photo they take, but for me, Lightroom is a way to catalog and organize only the shots I think I “might” publicly display some day. In this scenario, it would seem you have to check each little checkbox to import only the photos you want. But there happens to be a slightly quicker way to do this.

Below are the instructions to easily select multiple photos for import into Lightroom.

  • Click the Import button
  • Click the “Uncheck All” button on the Import screen.
  • Now you need to figure out if the photos you want to import are randomly scattered or contiguous and follow one of the two procedures below.


  • On a PC use CTRL – click, on a Mac use Command – click. Do this anywhere on each photo you want to import. It will highlight the box (thumbnail) of each photo, but it will not put a check in the checkbox.
  • Now that you have all your photos selected, all you need to do is click the little checkbox on one of those selected photos (it doesn’t matter which one) and the checkbox will be checked on all selected photos. It’s a little weird, but hey, it works.
  • Click Import.


  • If all the photos you want to import are contiguous (all next to each other), then instead of CTRL – clicking or Command – clicking each photo you can select them all with two clicks.
  • Click the first photo using CTRL – click (or “Command – click”)
  • Click the last photo using SHIFT – CTRL – click (or “SHIFT – Command – click”).
  • Now click the little checkbox on one of the selected photos (it doesn’t matter which one).
  • Click Import.

Again, a little weird, but I think this helps the workflow just a bit compared to clicking that little checkbox on every single photo each time you import a new set.

Also posted in How To Tagged , , , , , , , |

Gear Lust: It Matters Not What’s In Your Hands, But What’s In Your Head

When you find yourself in the throes of a major case of GAS (gear acquisition syndrome), you need to walk out of the store, or move your mouse cursor away from the Buy button. Next you need remind yourself that it is your imagination and creativity that most contributes to your passion, not the gear. What matters is not what’s in your hands, but what’s in your head.

I’m not saying you should never buy new gear, and in fact, I offer you a twist later in this article (more on that in a moment). What I’m saying is, don’t purchase gear with the belief that it will improve your work on the merits of the specifications alone. Think of all the iconic photographs from decades past, many of which are not superior on a technical level, even when they work exceptionally well on a compositional and emotional level. That new Nikon or Canon DSLR or that new zoom lens aren’t going to offer you any greater ability to tell a story with your photographs. The only thing that can do that is your imagination.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Slow down.
  • Don’t take a lot of photos, concentrate instead on what you are trying to accomplish.
  • Beyond the anchor or subject, pay attention to what is in the frame, especially at the edges.
  • Think about your composition and how different elements in the frame are flowing and interacting with each other.
  • Are you trying to tell a story with this shot, and will the composition offer a message to the viewer?

If you are overcome with the urge to buy a new piece of gear, instead look for inspiration by browsing the works of your favorite photographers, or better yet, discover new ones. And if that doesn’t quiet the desire for more hardware, pick up the gear you already own and go out and shoot! Because at the end of the day, taking more photos is how you improve your art, not buying new gear.

But if you still can’t resist that temptation, I offer this suggestion (here’s that twist I mentioned earlier): Head to eBay and get yourself a cheap film camera, like the 35mm Pentax K1000 that I just bought. But wait a second, I thought you said, “it’s not what’s in your hands, but what’s in your head.” — Yes, indeed I did, but I’m also realistic about gear lust. Sometimes you just need to buy something. But instead of the typical lens or camera body upgrade, take a hard left into uncharted territory and buy something you never thought you’d ever buy. For me, I never thought I’d go back to film. Hell, I never really shot much film in the first place. I think the last time I used a film camera I was in my teens in the early 1990s.

I want to reiterate that your imagination is the most important thing, but if gear is ever going to have any impact at all on the creative process, it’s likely to happen when you choose a piece of gear that really shakes things up, and makes you look at your craft in a different way. And in the case of old 35mm film cameras, it’s an inexpensive way to satisfy that hardware craving. Well, at least the gear is cheap. If you really get hooked, the film and developing costs could start to add up! Oh no, what have I done! 🙂

Also posted in Camera Gear, Deep Thoughts, Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Aspiring Street Photographers: Know Your Rights, Then Stand Your Ground

If you are an aspiring street photographer, you need to know your rights, and then you need to stand your ground. No, we aren’t talking about the ridiculous “Stand Your Ground” law in the state of Florida, but rather, stand your ground in this context means you as a photographer need to be courteous yet assertive when confronted on the street. Because the unfortunate reality is that if you are in the city taking photographs with a DSLR or similar “pro-looking” camera, you will eventually be approached by a security guard, or even sometimes the police — so know your rights!

The Photographer’s Right: The General Rule — The general rule in the United States is that anyone may take photographs of whatever they want when they are in a public place or places where they have permission to take photographs. Absent a specific legal prohibition such as statute or ordinance, you are legally entitled to take photographs. Examples of places that are traditionally considered public are streets, sidewalks, and public parks.

Property owners may legally prohibit photography on their premises but have no right to prohibit others from photographing their property from other locations.

And this right to photograph when in a public place is not limited to objects and buildings, as it also includes people. It’s your right to photograph anything, including people when you are in a public place, and yes, that even includes children. But that doesn’t mean you should be an ass about it. Obviously if you like candid street photography you aren’t going to ask for someone’s permission (although in the case of children, you might want to consider asking the parent’s permission first), but be mindful of how people react to you and your camera. If someone is not happy about it, move on to the next subject. While you are within your rights to continue to shoot in this scenario, common sense says you should avoid a possible confrontation, but more importantly, you should respect other’s feelings and emotions. Your task as a street photographer is to capture a slice of life, the human condition, and to tell a story, but you shouldn’t seek to upset people.

But when it comes to overzealous security guards or anyone else who questions your right to photograph, I think you should stand your ground. Be polite and explain why you have a right to photograph. I don’t think you should purposely escalate the situation by mocking the person who is challenging you, but you also should not immediately back down because it is up to all of us in the photography community to stick up for our rights. And so that brings me to a short documentary from 2011 where six photographers spread out across London with intention of capturing how private security reacts to their presence. I have to warn you, if you are well aware of your rights as a photographer, you might start yelling at the screen as I did.

Ugh, this is so frustrating! As I said, you can photograph whatever you want while in a public space, and that includes private buildings and people! And that is generally true in most advanced democracies. These private security guards, they are like singular human microcosms of the military industrial complex – continually inventing ways to justify their existence. They have no idea what they are talking about, but they think they are an authority on the matter. Okay, well leave this commentary at home and to yourself. Remember what I said, don’t escalate the situation. If you are approached, try to remember the way the photographers in this video behaved. There’s no reason to intensify the confrontation.

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

26 Photography Guidelines To Build From

DO NOT read this list if you are looking for camera setting tips, or gear recommendations, or lighting techniques, or composition tricks. DO read this list if you are looking to formulate your own thought processes and mental framework to improve your art and your relationship with photography. I am not a professional photographer. I created this list for myself, that’s why its written in the first person, but I thought maybe it could be of use to others. Use it as a starting point for your own photographic guidelines, and maybe to create your own list.

Figurine sculpture sitting on a box, dangling legs.

Figurine sculpture sitting on a box, dangling legs.


  1. I will miss every shot I don’t take.
  2. Today everyone is a photographer, so I’ll make it a goal to find my photographic voice, my unique take on the world, my personal visual style.
  3. Better gear does not make me a better photographer.
  4. Repeat guideline #3 at least 20 times before clicking that buy button.
  5. Always shoot raw.
  6. Purchase more storage space if necessary to facilitate #5.
  7. Always backup my photos, and in addition to a local backup, make sure I have at least one off-site (cloud) backup as well.
  8. When I’m searching for an interesting photographic subject, I must remember that some of the best photos in history are of the most commonplace, day-to-day subjects.
  9. If the shot is not working, get closer to the subject.
  10. If the shot is not working, get further away from the subject.
  11. If the shot is not working, walk around the subject and shoot it from a different angle.
  12. If the only camera I have with me is my smart phone, don’t stop looking for interesting things to shoot, and don’t hesitate to use the camera at my disposal.
  13. Spend less time browsing photography forums, blogs, and books, spend more time making art.
  14. But when the artistic muse is AWOL, recharge by searching for new inspiration by browsing photography forums, blogs, and books.
  15. Take less gear with me on photography outings.
  16. Follow #15, keeping in mind that some of the best photos were taken with a 35mm or 50mm fast prime lens.
  17. Be less timid, and more self-confident, particularly when shooting people. I must not be a voyeur. I either need to fade into the background for candids, or when that’s not possible, I must do the opposite and own it, and become an active part of the scene. Great photographers overcame their fear in service of finding the next great shot.
  18. Since everyone is a photographer, I need to find a different perspective. I need to get down low, because every shot I’ve taken in the past from a low angle has revealed a whole new world.
  19. I should only put my very best photos online. I must resist the temptation to increase quantity which ultimately serves to dilute quality.
  20. Before I click the shutter button, I must stop and take in the scene. There’s no prize for taking the most photographs.
  21. Building on #20, figure out the subject, the thing that anchors the entire scene, and then look for light and dark spaces that create flow and visual interest, and then look for lines that flow towards and away from the main subject.
  22. When working in the digital darkroom (Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.) I need to walk away, come back later with a fresh pair of eyes, and see if I still like the changes I’ve made to a photo.
  23. Good photos can be taken anywhere. While going to a specific location to take photos is perfectly fine, I need to remember that good photos are all about light, lines and composition, and those things can be found (and framed) everywhere.
  24. A good photograph tells a story or it makes people wonder and use their imagination.
  25. I need to take more photos in the rain and/or when the ground is wet, particularly at night. The wet ground and reflections of light from buildings, cars, and street lights creates a magical canvas just waiting to be photographed.
  26. I need to refine and grow this list of personal guidelines.
Also posted in Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Does White Balance Matter If Shooting Raw?

Should you set white balance if your photo is captured using your camera’s raw format? This is a common question when just starting out shooting raw. So does white balance matter if shooting raw? The short answer is: no. When you set the white balance on your camera (or if you leave it up to the camera), whatever white balance that is applied to the final image is only for the purposes of display on your camera’s LCD (and if you also save JPEG with your raw file). The white balance setting that is “attached” as part of the metadata info on your raw image file is used by your photo processing software (Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.) as a default when you first open your image. But at that point, you are free to manipulate white balance as you see fit, and it will not negatively impact image quality. That’s because raw format (which really isn’t an image format per se) is exactly as the name implies, the camera is capturing the raw data seen by your camera’s sensor. White balance is applied in post-processing to a final image, and when you shoot raw, you don’t yet have a final image. If you only shoot in JPEG, white balance post-processing is done in-camera. But when you shoot raw, the white balance that is “attached” to your raw image file’s metadata serves only as a suggestion.

So that means you should never worry about white balance when you shoot raw? Well, just a second there, professor. While it is true that you don’t “have to” set white balance when you shoot raw, there might be a reason why you “want to.” Consider this scenario: You dial in your settings, compose your shot, then you fire away. Now you take a look at your photo on the rear LCD display to confirm it is the masterpiece you saw through the viewfinder. After careful scrutiny you decide you can do better, so you make some adjustments, re-compose your new shot, but damn, things still aren’t exactly as you expect them to be. Well, it’s entirely possible that your camera’s choice of white balance is throwing off the “processed” image you are seeing in your rear LCD, and in-turn may affect your decision-making. Many times a bad white balance choice is obvious (ever try shooting at the sun with auto white balance?), but it could be a more subtle effect on the final image that is leaving you with a less than perfect capture. Setting the white balance for the given conditions could lead to a better initial capture, giving you better “information” to work from, and hopefully leading to good decisions that make it possible to capture that work-of-art.

In practice you will likely use auto white balance most of the time, I know I do. And when shooting raw, its reassuring to know you have the ability to set your white balance later. But next time you are in a complex lighting situation and your camera just can’t seem to figure out the white balance on its own, its time to set your white balance manually. It might be the difference between discarding a mediocre shot and capturing something special. After all, if you later pass judgement on this photo before adjusting the white balance, you will never know.

Also posted in Photography Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |