This June, Adobe released a major update for its suite of photography applications. Lightroom (Classic & Mobile) and Photoshop both underwent changes and improvements. In general, Adobe releases a ‘major’ update with new features/sliders every 6 months or so. The last big update came in January and brought us the ‘Range Mask’ feature in Lightroom (game changing!).
This most recent update brought some exciting new features, let’s break down the update for each program.
Photoshop – June 2020 release (version 21.2)
Adobe says that the new update to Photoshop introduces the most features in an update since 2019. This is mainly due in part to a complete overhaul of Adobe Camera Raw. The ‘Select Subject’ function has been further optimized to provide precise selections while working with portraits.
The two major ways to edit and open an image in Photoshop are Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) and Lightroom. Although many use Lightroom, a substantial number of photographers use ACR in their workflow. The two programs have the exact same sliders and capability, but the interface has always been different. In the recent update, ACR took a large step towards a closer resemblance to the Develop Module in Lightroom. Panels are now laid out similarly to Lightroom and tools are now on the right sidebar.
A list of ACR interface changes is below –
- Ability to work with multiple edit panels at the same time.
- Ability to create and set ISO adaptive presets as raw defaults.
- A new Hue slider in the Local Adjustments panel. Change colors in specific areas without affecting the rest of the photo.
- A centered crop 2 x 2 grid overlay to crop the exact center frame of a photo.
- Improved Curves panel to easily switch between Parametric and Point Curve channels. Make precise adjustments with input values for the point curve and the red, green, and blue channels.
- Film strip orientation options such as horizontal and image-focused, or vertical with image names and ratings.
Although Adobe says ‘Select Subject’ only works with humans, I have found that the function does work with certain wildlife images as well. Improved performance is great with this tool, as it is almost a one-click way to create a refined selection. I find that ‘Select Subject’ works best when paired with ‘Select and Mask’.
For a full list of updates, check Adobe’s post here – https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/using/whats-new/2020-5.html.
Lightroom – June 2020 release (version 9.3)
Along with the performance improvements and added camera support, the recent update introduced a new local hue adjustment slider, a new crop overlay, and a host of additional presets to Lightroom Classic.
A few minor user interface changes were also made to the Sync, Tone Curve, and Color panels. There is now a dedicated Sync icon that helps you manage your sync status. The Tone Curve panel now has new buttons that make it easy to switch between the Point Curve and the Parametric Curve. The Color panel also has a new interface with color coded icons.
Perhaps the biggest new update is the inclusion of a local hue adjustment slider, ‘local’ meaning that the slider is only available for use with selective tools (Graduated Filter Tool, Radial Filter Tool, and Adjustment Brush Tool). This addition has big implications, as it is the first true selective color adjustment available for use with the tools. Adjusting the white balance worked well, but I think the new ‘Hue’ slider will open up some options for us nature photographers.
Another big addition is the new ISO Adaptive Preset feature. This allows you to create a preset, which will adjust the Luminance slider based on the specific ISO of the image. To do this, you must select two different images with different ISOs, make the same adjustments for each photo, but make sure the Luminance value is set to different values for each image (for instant 40 for a ISO 3200 image and 20 for a ISO 400 image). Now, when you save the preset and apply it, the Luminance slider will adaptively change to a value based on the ISO of the image. This is a great new feature because oftentimes we want to apply the same color and luminosity adjustments to multiple images, but then apply different values of noise reduction.
There was one more crop overlay added to the crop tool. The new one is a 2×2 grid with a horizontal and vertical line cutting the image directly in half. There was also a host of Adobe default presets added to the Preset panel in the Develop Module.
For a full list of updates, check Adobe’s post here – https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom-classic/help/whats-new.html.
Overall, this is a considerable update for the Adobe suite of photography applications. I think the ACR interface change is notable and represents a potential shift to align ACR with Lightroom’s Develop Module. Whether the change is good or not is personal preference. The change to ACR is drastic though and might take some users a little bit to get used to. The same functionality is there between ACR and the Develop Module still.
I think the biggest additions with this update are the new local hue adjustment slider and the ability to create ISO adaptive presets. The local Hue adjustment should be great for working with skies in landscapes, flowers, and wildlife images. It allows us to make more precise and selective color adjustments, something that wasn’t easy in Lightroom before. Many photographers use presets constantly to process images, especially when one might have thousands of wildlife images. Being able to apply a preset that will adaptively apply noise reduction based on ISO is huge, in my opinion.
The other improvements are smaller, but still important. I personally like the updated UI with Tone Curve and Color. The added Adobe default presets also make it easy to preview what profile preset looks best. Plus, Adobe also improved performance when it comes to sorting/filtering with large Catalogs and scrubbing Develop sliders. All in all, it was a great update for Lightroom and Photoshop.
Matt Meisenheimer is a photographer based in Wisconsin. His artistry revolves around finding unique compositions and exploring locations that few have seen. He strives to capture those brief moments of dramatic light and weather, which make our grand landscapes so special. Matt loves the process of photography – from planning trips and scouting locations, taking the shot in-field, to post-processing the final image.
Matt is an active adventurer and wildlife enthusiast as well. He graduated with a degree in wildlife ecology and worked in Denali National Park and Mount Rainier National Park as a biologist. He also spent 6 months working in the deserts of Namibia before finding his path in photography. Matt’s passion for the wilderness has taken him to many beautiful places around the world.
As a former university teaching assistant, Matt is passionate about instruction. It is his goal to give his students the technical and creative knowledge they need to achieve their own photographic vision. He truly enjoys working with photographers on a personal level and helping them reach their goals.
You can see Matt’s work and portfolio on his webpage at www.meisphotography.com