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The Practicing Photographer

with Ben Long

Video: Using a MIDI Lightroom controller

Get a weekly serving of photographic insight, instruction, and inspiration from photographer, teacher, and author Ben Long.
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  1. 33m 15s
    1. Using a MIDI Lightroom controller NEW
      8m 52s
  2. 1m 35s
    1. Introducing The Practicing Photographer
      1m 35s
  3. 12h 57m
    1. Choosing a camera
      5m 27s
    2. Looking at light as a subject
      2m 22s
    3. Using a small reflector to add fill light
      5m 45s
    4. Editing photo metadata with PhotosInfo Pro for iPad
      6m 30s
    5. Let your lens reshape you
      7m 26s
    6. Compositing street photography images with Photoshop
      7m 44s
    7. Expand your filter options with step-up and step-down rings
      3m 56s
    8. Shooting without a memory card
      3m 6s
    9. Give yourself a year-long assignment
      5m 28s
    10. Working with reflections
      1m 26s
    11. Exploring mirrorless cameras
      7m 25s
    12. Batch processing photos with the Adobe Image Processor
      7m 30s
    13. Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens
      2m 13s
    14. Creating tiny worlds: Shooting technique
      4m 15s
    15. Creating tiny worlds: Post-processing techniques
      11m 41s
    16. Shooting macro shots on an iPhone
      3m 18s
    17. Using a tripod
      3m 33s
    18. Wildlife and staying present
      5m 58s
    19. Batch exposure adjustments on raw files
      6m 52s
    20. Why Shoot Polaroid
      11m 12s
    21. Seizing an opportunity
      4m 4s
    22. Four photographers do a light-as-subject exercise
      12m 24s
    23. Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens
      4m 54s
    24. Varnishing a photo for a painterly effect
      13m 36s
    25. Shooting wildlife
      7m 24s
    26. Discussion on how to shoot architecture
      12m 27s
    27. Using a lens hood
      4m 48s
    28. Working with themes
      2m 48s
    29. Setting up an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    30. Processing an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    31. Two perspectives on travel photography
      12m 28s
    32. Scanning Photos
      5m 37s
    33. Photo assignment: shooting an egg
      3m 13s
    34. Reviewing the egg shot images
      6m 47s
    35. Shooting in your own backyard
      4m 38s
    36. Jpeg iPad import process
      3m 17s
    37. Shooting a product shot in open shade
      9m 34s
    38. Reviewing the product shot images
      4m 5s
    39. Warming up
      3m 26s
    40. Taking a panning action shot
      10m 17s
    41. Scanning polaroid negatives and processing in Photoshop
      8m 17s
    42. Shooting a silhouette
      3m 9s
    43. Going with an ultra-light gear configuration
      5m 29s
    44. Working with masks and calculations in Photoshop
      12m 38s
    45. Working with flash for macro photography
      4m 56s
    46. Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop
      5m 10s
    47. Using duct tape and zip ties in the field
      4m 14s
    48. When the on camera flash is casting a shadow
      3m 4s
    49. Using Lightroom on the road
      6m 28s
    50. Listening to your camera to get good exposure
      2m 20s
    51. Shooting a successful self portrait with a phone
      7m 18s
    52. Switching to Lightroom from another application
      9m 48s
    53. Photographing animals in wildlife refuges
      6m 41s
    54. Shooting level
      2m 42s
    55. Photoshop and Automator
      8m 54s
    56. Shooting when the light is flat
      3m 23s
    57. Discussing the business of stock photography
      9m 48s
    58. Shooting tethered to a monitor
      3m 21s
    59. Making a 360 degree panorama on the iPhone
      4m 45s
    60. Understanding the three flash setup
      3m 34s
    61. Shooting a three flash portrait
      4m 6s
    62. Understanding the differences with third party lenses
      4m 43s
    63. Understanding why files look different on depending on device
      5m 25s
    64. Working with a geotagging app on the iPhone
      4m 43s
    65. Using high speed flash sync to dim ambient light
      7m 29s
    66. Using your iPad as a second monitor
      5m 46s
    67. Understanding exposure with a leaf shutter camera
      3m 28s
    68. Photography practice through mimicry
      8m 8s
    69. Canon wireless flash with built in radio control
      5m 59s
    70. Posing and shooting pairs of people
      5m 35s
    71. Shooting with a shape in mind
      3m 15s
    72. Shooting tethered to a laptop
      4m 40s
    73. Softboxes vs. umbrellas
      2m 55s
    74. Getting your project out into the world
      6m 25s
    75. Exploring how to think about shooting a new environment
      3m 56s
    76. Discussing the book "The Passionate Photographer" with Steve Simon
      6m 4s
    77. Highlighting iOS 8 updates on the iPhone5S
      10m 46s
    78. Exploring manual controls with iOS 8 and ProCamera
      5m 30s
    79. Understanding how to compose with an empty sky
      4m 54s
    80. Using an iPhone to make a print in the darkroom
      7m 16s
    81. How to use glycerin as a photography tool
      2m 16s
    82. Understanding micro focus adjustment and Lens Align
      11m 19s
    83. Working with hair in post
      3m 28s
    84. Taking a quick portrait and directing a subject
      5m 50s
    85. Getting inspired through the work of others
      11m 22s
    86. Taking a flattering portrait with flash
      4m 21s
    87. Creating an unaligned HDR image
      3m 3s
    88. Exploring how to use Bokeh
      5m 38s
    89. Shooting stills from a drone
      6m 57s
    90. Using a monitor to get a first person view of the aerial camera
      8m 0s
    91. Understanding lens profile correction
      5m 33s
    92. Working with models
      2m 40s
    93. Understanding the labels on SD cards
      10m 32s
    94. Setting up a macro time lapse of a flower
      6m 18s
    95. Taking a portrait that's tightly cropped or slightly obscured
      3m 24s
    96. Tips for shooting panoramas
      7m 16s
    97. Carrying a point-and-shoot camera
      4m 44s
    98. Adjusting the color of shadows in an image
      5m 35s
    99. Evaluating camera-strap options
      4m 42s
    100. The 100th Practicing Photographer
      3m 31s
    101. Using light-pollution maps for planning night shoots
      3m 26s
    102. Shooting a series of star shots for a stack
      8m 32s
    103. Stitching together stacks of stars
      8m 59s
    104. Understanding how to clean sensor dust
      10m 27s
    105. Dry sensor cleaning
      6m 23s
    106. Cleaning the sensor with moisture
      7m 32s
    107. Composing in the center
      2m 48s
    108. Working with an electronic shutter control
      2m 50s
    109. Understanding how to use the Wi-Fi feature in some cameras
      2m 56s
    110. Exploring the software equivalent to graduated ND (neutral density) filters
      7m 8s
    111. Don't be predictable in your framing
      10m 21s
    112. Shooting with ND filter and flash to balance subject and background exposure
      2m 42s
    113. Understanding when to go low contrast
      3m 15s
    114. Reasons for shooting images alone
      4m 5s
    115. Working with colored lens filters and converting to black and white
      14m 4s
    116. Waiting for a subject when the light is good
      5m 2s
    117. Understanding options for tripod heads
      7m 23s
    118. Shooting a slow-shutter zoom-and-spin shot for light effect
      4m 47s
    119. Shooting and processing a long exposure at night
      10m 0s
    120. Getting creative with image curation
      4m 12s
    121. Why equivalent lenses don't always meter the same
      5m 42s
    122. Pulling stills from a time lapse
      6m 8s
    123. Composing an image using what you have
      4m 44s
    124. Using good photography skills always
      4m 6s
    125. Converting an image to B&W with Lightroom and Photoshop
      5m 5s
    126. Critiquing images from a group photo event
      24m 13s
    127. Taking the "why not?" kind of shot NEW
      2m 17s

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The Practicing Photographer
Video Duration: 0s13h 32m Appropriate for all May 16, 2013 Updated Oct 08, 2015

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

View Course Description

In The Practicing Photographer, photographer and teacher Ben Long shares a weekly serving of photographic instruction and inspiration. Each installment focuses on a photographic shooting scenario, a piece of gear, or a software technique. Each installment concludes with a call to action designed to inspire you to pick up your camera (or your mouse or smartphone) to try the technique for yourself.

Ben Long

Using a MIDI Lightroom controller

- This week on the Practicing Photographer, we're going to look at a very different way of controlling Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. If you're a Lightroom user, you should probably already be very familiar and comfortable with all of our editing controls over here. We got a series of sliders and buttons and dials and curve controls and things, and they work great. And I really like these controls, as I've said before. I think this set of sliders right here, the basic tone sliders in Lightroom, is the best combination of editing controls that anyone has yet to come up with for working with raw files, or any other type of image for that matter.

But when you're driving it with a mouse all day, well, your hands can start to hurt like crazy, at least mine does, but also, you may get a little sluggish as you continue editing and so what I've got here is a MIDI controller that has been set up to work with Lightroom. MIDI is Musical Instrument Digital Interface. This is normally a controller that would be used to drive synthesizers or mixers or whatnot, but this company called Pusher Labs has created something called PFIXER, and this is a Behringer BCF2000 MIDI console with some special software that's all set up to drive Lightroom, and they put these nice overlays on it so that all of my buttons and dials here are actually labeled correctly for Lightroom.

So if you're wondering why in the world I would want this, let me just dive in and show you. I'm here in Lightroom, I've got some images pulled up here, I'm going to start a normal editing process. I look at this image, I look at the histogram, the first thing I think is the white balance is a little off. Normally, I would come, mouse up here to the temperature and tint sliders and work with those to adjust the color, to pull some of that red out. Instead, I'm just going to go up here to my temperature and tint knobs and turn them with my fingers. It's great. I can just dial the temperature down there and there, I've pulled some red out of that.

I could mess with the tint. I don't think I need to. The rest of my sliders down here, the normal basic editing sliders, are mapped onto the sliders right here. A quick look at my histogram shows that my right end is messed up, so I'm going to pull the whites down, which I can do just by dragging the slider down. And now I'm thinking maybe I'm going to pull the highlights down instead and push the whites back up. I didn't quite do that right. I need maybe some more detail out of the shadows so I'm going to push my shadows up to get some more data into the middle of the histogram, where I can use my contrast slider to spread it out.

I know that because this is a raw file, it neit's some sharpening, so I'm going to throw a little bit of clarity in, which is going to increase some contrast. And as I do that, I'm coming to the end here, I think these shadows up here, or this fog up here looks a little blue, I think that's a white balance issue, so I'm just going to turn my white balance knob to put a little warmth back in. With that done, I'm ready to move on to my next image. Now this is where it gets really cool. Normally, when you go from one image in Lightroom to another, all of the sliders over here update to show you the settings for that image.

This board does the same thing. I'm going to hit the next image button here, it goes to the next image and all my sliders just moved back to the normal position. So now I can just jump right in and start editing this image. So I'm going through all the same perfectly normal workflow that I would normally do in Lightroom, it's just I'm using these analog controls to drive everything. And I'm getting a few different things here. One, I'm getting my hand off the mouse. And after years and years of working with a computer, my hands are pretty messed up because of the mouse so I'm loving this.

I'm not doing any clinching or any of the other things that happen when I use a mouse that make my hands hurt. Go on to next image. So I've got my hands off the mouse, I'm having a much, much easier time on my hands, but I'm also finding I can work pretty quickly here. I think it's going to go faster as I get a better handle on where everything is. I realize that I'm really used to mapping, kind of in my head spatially, how these different controls relate to different parts of the histogram. It's hard to explain, I need to get my head around that a little bit, but I think that will come.

I think that this is a way that I can work very, very quickly once I've gotten used to it. And again, as I move around, my sliders are constantly adjusting. Pusher Labs has done a great job of mapping pretty much everything that you would use in a basic editing session on to this console. Now obviously, I can't do brushstrokes and things like that but I can get my brushstrokes configured and whatnot and then just jump over to it if I had a tablet or something like that, jump over to there.

And so I have a couple of different mouse-free ways of working. What's also nice is they've paid attention to a lot of the other kind of utility functions that I want to have while I'm editing. In addition to these basic controls here, I also have a couple different modes I can put the board in. I'm in the basic editing mode right now, or I'm sorry, the basic editing mode right now. I'm going to go over to editing, which now gives me access to a whole new bank of controls that I didn't have before.

I'm going to tell it that I want to edit this in Photoshop, which I can do with a single button push. And now it's starting the round-trip process into Photoshop. So here I am in Photoshop, I'm just going to drop in and quickly fix the contrast here on the ground. It looks a little flat. Now I don't have control of Photoshop with this board. It might be possible to set that up. I haven't really looked into that yet. The thing is, all this board is doing is sending key commands. It's just mapping keyboard shortcuts onto all of these different controls that I have here.

So anything that's drivable on my computer with a keyboard shortcut can be driven from this board. So in theory, I could come through and build a map that would allow me to drive Photoshop. I say in theory because I haven't been working with this for that long, and I don't know if that's very possible. A quick glance through the manual gives me an idea that setting that up would be pretty complicated. They've mapped hundreds and hundreds of various parameters using their software, which is very intuitive, it just looks like it would be a lot of work to go through and think about everything that you wanted to do and get it all set up appropriately.

Now I'm back in Lightroom, and my board has reset to zero because I'm no longer editing the file that I was editing before. I'm now looking at that TIF file that Lightroom sent off to Photoshop. If you understand Lightroom's round-trip process to Photoshop, that should make sense. I think I want to convert this to a black and white so I'm going to hit my black and white button, which drops me into black and white. I can now hit this button over here, and all of these knobs up here change from my white balance controls that I had before to toning controls for black and white. I would like to change the tone of the grass there, which is green, so I'm going to turn the green knob, and the greens are going to get darker, or the greens are going to get lighter.

And now I can really get somewhere. Switch back to basic, and these knobs are back to the controls they were at before. There are lots and lots of things... Well, old habits. I'm using the arrow keys here. I don't have to use those primitive old arrow keys. I can use these keys over here, which have a much nicer feel. Like I said, there are a lot of cool utility functions here. I shot a bunch of pictures of my mom the other day, so she was sitting in the same chair through the whole thing. I think there's one set of edits that would probably be reasonable for all of these. So I'm going to just drop some edits on here that I like.

Pull that down a little bit. A little clarity in, drop in a vignette. All of my basic edits. Now what I would like to do is copy these and drop them on the other images. If you look down here, you can see thumbnails of a whole bunch of other shots I took at the same time. I've got a copy button here, I've got an enter button here, and now I can go over here and select the images to the right, hit paste and boom. That edit has been applied to all of those images. My sliders update. I'm really, really liking this thing.

It's not too pricey. The Pusher Labs site has pricing on both this piece of hardware and just the software. So if you've already got a MIDI controller of some kind, you might be able to get away with just buying their software, setting up some maps yourself. You can also simply buy this console on its own. As I said, this is a Behringer BCF2000. You can get the console on your own, maybe you can find a used one, maybe you've already got one. You can order just the overlay from them, install the software and get it all set up that way. So again, if you're heavy Lightroom user, this is the Pusher Labs PFIXER.

It's a great way to get your hands off the keyboard. In addition to freeing up your hands and giving you a really fast workflow, it puts an analog feel back into your digital post production. So if you're missing the hands-on quality of the darkroom, this is a way to get your hands back on something tactile and movable, and I'm really enjoying that. So again, if you do a lot of Lightroom editing, this thing is worth checking out.

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