Today is kind of a mixed Q&A day. First off, a huge thank you for all of the kind words from the Moab photos I posted the other day. I got a lot of questions about those photos, so I’m answering those at the top of the list here. Then I’ve got some Lightroom-only Q&A’s toward the bottom of the list. Enjoy!

Q. Come on Matt. Was it really that cold there or are you just a wimp?
A. Yes and Yes. It was that cold there and yes I am I wimp. I moved to Florida from the northeast US about 18 years ago and my blood has thinned. I get cold and wear a sweatshirt when it goes below 80 degrees, so you can guess what it’s like when I’m in 25-30 degree weather with a gusty wind that won’t quit 😉

Q. Did you use any filters for these photos?
A. Although I use filters all the time, I didn’t use them much in Utah. I carry a polarizer at all times. That is one filter that cannot be reproduced (easily and with good results) in Lightroom or Photoshop. However, it didn’t help much with these photos. A few folks asked if I use a graduated neutral density filter and the answer is no. I’ve battled with this for a while now. I used to use one often, and always found that my horizons never had a perfectly straight line through them and something always got a bit darker then I wanted. I still keep it with me but I’ve had better luck exposing on the brighter side to capture the detail and using the Graduated Filter to tone down the sky later. Oh yeah, I also tried a warming filter on one of them and liked the effect. I borrowed it from some one and I believe it had some magenta in it too. I know you can do this in Lightroom but it was kind of nice to have it done in camera and not have to mess around with it in post.
(disclaimer: this is just my personal preference, so please don’t write mean comments that I’m doing it wrong. If you feel I’m wrong then continue to do it your way and ignore me – sorry, but the way some folks have been with comments these days means that everything needs a disclaimer) 🙂

Q. Did you try converting any of these photos to black and white?
A. I tried (hence the presets from last week). I have to be honest with you though. I know I create B&W presets, but I do it mainly because I know a lot of folks out there like them. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of black and white. Every once in a while I find myself going to B&W but it’s not that often. I don’t know what it is. I just like color. Even as a kid, I was given the chance to use B&W film and I never liked it. I don’t like grain and I’ve never missed that “old B&W feel” that many do. I guess it’s a personal preference. That said, I did try a black and white on the image below and was pretty happy with the way it came out. You’ll see there’s a little bit of a tint to it as well. I’m not sure I’ll print it, but I’m still working on a few others too so we’ll see.

Q. What technique did you use to capture the sun star-burst-like rays (see image below)?
A. Great question! I set the aperture of the lens to f/16. I usually recommend people use a minimum of f/16 to capture them and preferably something like f/22 or higher. But I was able to get those sun star-burst rays at f/16. I also noticed that the star-burst effect looked awesome – one of the best I’ve seen. It’s lead to a theory that I really haven’t officially tested out yet so don’t hold me to it. See, I borrowed Scott’s Nikon 14-24mm 2.8 lens. It was the first time I used it. I compared this up against other similar star-burst photos (with different lenses) and it not only produced those rays at f/16 (when I usually need to be at f/22 with the others) but the rays looked so much better.

Q. What lenses did you take besides the 3 mentioned?
A. I took my 17-55mm (f/2.8), the 70-200mm (f/2.8), the 14-24mm (2.8) and my 18-200mm (3.5-5.6). All were Nikon lenses. The 17-55mm never came out of the bag. Basically, I wanted something long and something extremely wide most of the time. I did bring the 18-200mm VR lens as a “walking around” lens. I used the 18-200 a lot. The lack of 2.8 aperture wasn’t an issue on it since I was on a tripod and shooting landscapes. Very rarely was I wide open at f/2.8 anyway and it was pretty convenient not to change lenses. That said, I loved the 14-24mm lens. That thing is sharp and I may end up stealing (I mean borrowing) it from Scott if he’s not using it.

Q. How about posting some before/afters of these photos and the settings you used for them?
A. Great idea! I’ve actually got a video planned for this week where I go through from start to finish what I did so you can see my raw file and the finished product.

That’s it for the Moab photo Q&A’s. Here’s a few Lightroom-related Q&A’s to wrap up with.

Q. Based on your Batch Cropping video, which module is better to export your images to a JPEG? The Library (using File > Export) module or Print?
A. From a quality perspective, there is no difference. See, JPEG is a compression format that is standardized. So whether you’re creating one from the Library module (File > Export) or from the Print module, the settings you get are the same. If you’re exporting JPEGs bound for a computer screen only, you do get an option in the File > Export dialog that let’s you sharpen for the Screen instead of for Print. Personally, I’ve tried it out and the difference is barely noticeable but if the computer screen is your final output you’re probably better off with File > Export. The main reason to use the Print module for creating JPEGs is when you’ve cropped to a specific print size or created a layout or picture package of some sort. You won’t be able to save that layout as a JPEG anywhere else.

Q. Is there any soft-proofing in Lightroom?
A. Nope. If you wanted to soft-proof you’d have to Edit in Photoshop. Lightroom won’t make a copy automatically so you can feasibly go into Photoshop, soft-proof and then just close the photo with no harm (or extra files) done.

Q. Is there a way to transfer my presets from my laptop to a desktop (or from a Mac to a PC)?
A. Yep. Actually the Mac/PC thing doesn’t matter. Presets are compatible with both. I wrote a tip a while back that describes how to save and move your presets. Here’s the link.