Adobe Lightroom Plug-ins

Yeah, I like Lightroom. One way I use it often is to create web galleries to post on my website for players and parents to view photos after a baseball game or musical. This is a quick method for me to get my photos out in front of others quickly and without a lot of messing around. The current plug-in I use allows me to create the gallery in a format that even accepts PayPal payments if someone wants to purchase one of my photos. Plug-ins are great!

Plug-ins abound but I still haven’t found that I am 100% satisfied with or that completely meets all my needs. Customization and tweaking are just in my blood I guess. In my defense, I strongly believe that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing right. I am fussy and I do have high expectations. I just want things to look a certain way. After all I am a photographer!

So today I am venturing into unknown territory–creating Lightroom plug-ins of my very own.

I do have some very basic programming skills thanks to one college class I had at Temple University in Fortan language. Over the years I also have acquired a few more programming skills and do design my own web pages. Still, this is going to be a monumental task for me. Wish me luck. And if you have any advice, please let me know. I can use all the help I can get!


Wildlife Web Galleries

I already mentioned previously that I like Lightroom. I’ve been using this software for well over a year now and I love it! Just last night I watched a tutorial on how to use the upload feature in the Web Gallery Module. It got me to thinking that I can not only save time by automatically uploading photos to my website directly from Lightroom, but I can also keep galleries of my wildlife photos and just keep updating them automatically from Lightroom.

It took me a little while to implement my idea, but after a few trials and errors it worked! I was excited last night about this possibility and thought, gee, this is almost too easy! I suppose this is what software really should provide for us, but I typically find the opposite to be true. Computers and software are supposed to work for us and make our work easier, right?

Well, last night I implemented an idea that really shows that Lightroom can work for me in some very positive ways. For example, I wanted to create a gallery for each different mammal that I photograph–deer, bear, squirrels, elk, etc. Previously I created a gallery in Dreamweaver for this but then had to edit each gallery every time I added some additional photographs to the gallery. So last night I got the brainstorm to create the galleries in Lightroom and have Lightroom upload the gallery for each mammal. Now, when I add more photos I just upload the gallery again, which overwrites the old one and automatically adds the new ones. Now that’s efficient!

So now my website is starting to feature some of these wildlife galleries. You can go to my website and see these galleries listed on the right-hand side. Click on any of the mammals listed there to see the corresponding galleries. Thanks, Lightroom, for making this task not only manageable but easy, too!

New Baseball Photographs Posted

Sports photography is one my photo passions. I do not shoot for Sports Illustrated or ESPN the Magazine yet, but I do try to celebrate the talents of the young players who play at the Lehigh Valley Baseball Academy. Think about this. The Little League World Series is now over. We watched the games for the past three weeks on television. Local Little Leagues need to end their season in the beginning of June in order to pick their All-Star teams and have enough time to play the tournaments. This means that most of the Little League players complete their baseball season in the beginning of June. Only a small number of players get onto All-Star teams and once you lose; you’re season is done, too. Very few players play all summer in Little League. What happened to the days when summers were for baseball?

For better or worse, things have changed. Now the baseball craze is travel and tournament baseball. Players who play on a tournament team often play 2 to 3 games on Saturday and anywhere from 2 to 4 or even 5 games on Sunday! Tournament baseball is very different from Little League baseball. The positive part for me is that I can shoot a lot of games in a weekend–mostly Saturdays for me. This past Saturday I photographed three back-to-back games. I averaged a little over 100 good photographs for each game. I am very particular about what I think is good enough and what I post on my website to share with players, coaches, and parents. I might not be submitting photos to the big sports magazines yet, but I still demand a lot of myself and have high standards.

I pick the best photos to display on my website and then share them with the teams and families. I use a simple protection protocol with a user name and password , which I mentioned in detail a few posts ago. It is just an effort to protect the photos of the young players, while still trying to share the photos with all those who might be interested in viewing or purchasing them. I find great joy in photographing the baseball games and trying to capture the exciting action on the field. Baseball is still our great American pastime and is worthy of being preserved in photographs. Besides, who knows when one of these young ball players will make it into the Bigs!

You can view my LVBA page and if you would like to receive the user name and password to view the photos, please send me an email message. Here are just a few sample photos.

It’s Easy to Create PayPal Galleries in Lightroom

Lightroom makes it very easy to create web galleries. It is pretty much as easy as selecting the photos you want to include, modifying the gallery to your liking in the Web module, and then exporting this information and uploading it on your server. It actually sounds more complicated than it is to do. In the previous two blog posts I talked about how to do this in detail and even protect web galleries with a password.

Today I want to share with you how easy it is to create a PayPal gallery in Lightroom. I use these PayPal galleries all the time because they allow visitors to my website the ability to easily order prints using PayPal or any credit card. This feature alone has contributed to an increase in prints sales, particularly from parents of baseball players. You hear of many online services that do this for you. They take care of designing the code behind the galleries and then  you just upload your photos to their service, of course in addition to paying their monthly fees. I wasn’t sure I would have enough sales to warrant this expense, so I decided to do it by myself. Lightroom made it possible in a huge way for me!

The key is a template called “LRG One with PayPal Shopping Cart.” The link to this awesome template can be found here. Basically all you do is download the template, read the instructions on how to install and use it, add a few bits of information in your metadata, customize the gallery, and upload it to your server. Again, this all sounds much more complicated than it actually is to implement.

I use this template for all of my sports photography shoots. I select the photos to include in the web gallery. Then I include the metadata information for the size prints I offer, which is easy to do using the Sync feature. This copies the metadata to each photo that is included in the gallery. Then I export using the LRG One with PayPal Shopping Cart template. I even add the password protection I mentioned in yesterday’s blog entry.

Now when someone visits my web gallery they can view the photos and purchase prints of varying sizes using PayPal or their preferred credit card. Of course, you have to set up a PayPal account and they take a small percentage of each sale, but it is much less expensive than using one of the other online services.

Once I receive an order from PayPal via email, I simply prepare the order and send it off to my photo lab. They print the prints and send them off to my client. It is that simple and I love it! The PayPal template is definitely one I find invaluable and highly helpful!

Secure Web Galleries

I do a lot of sports photography but most of it is with young players whose parents may not be thrilled with faces of their children all over the internet. So, by using Lightroom to create a web gallery and then working in Dreamweaver, I can create password protected galleries that attempt to keep the photos more secure. For me it has worked beautifully and the parents of the players I work with seem to appreciate this extra effort.

Here is what I do.

I create a web gallery in Lightroom, which I described in yesterday’s blog entry. Then I open up the newly created index file of this gallery in Dreamweaver. I edit the file by adding some code that directs the web page viewer to a login screen. You can see an example of this login screen by going here. This additional code is not complicated and once I created it the first time I can just copy and paste the code into a new gallery without having to retype it.

The logon code is contained in a different file in the same folder or directory. This requires the webpage viewer to enter a username and password that I assign for the gallery. This information is passed on to the players, coaches, and parents. They are encouraged to share this info with their friends and family, but it prevents anyone who stumbles across my site from gaining access to the photos of minors. It works well and is not difficult to set up.

I then create a link on my website that allows the team to view the photos after they enter the username and password.

If you are interested in the details and code of how this is done feel free to email me. I am more than happy to share with others what works for me. After all, I learn something new every day about photography. It is a great time to be a photographer!

Web Galleries from Lightroom

Continuing the theme of how I post-process photographs, I will now discuss how I use the Web Gallery Module in Lightroom to share my photos with others.

Let’s say I shoot a baseball game, which is one of my most favorite subjects. Every game has a story that unfolds and my job is to try to tell that story photographically. I also like to portray players in action, preferably with the baseball in the frame. So I get back from a shoot and select the keepers as I described on Saturday. All those that are marked “picked” will now be prepared for display on a new web page on my website. Lightroom makes this incredibly easy!

First, I go to the collection I created, that contains all the selected photos. Then I go to the Web Module. Here’s where things get fun! Let’s say I want to add the photos to my website and have them display as a slideshow with a black background. To start setting this up, I click on the already installed Lightroom Template from the left panel named “Slideshow.” Now I choose to customize this in a  number of different ways. First I setup the titles in the right panel labeled Site Info. I can change the Site Title, Collection Title, Description, Contact Info, and the Web or Mail Link. As changes are made they show up in the large preview screen.

I typically just go down the right-hand panel and make changes in this order. The next panel is the Color Palette where I can change the font color, any header or menu text, the border, and the background colors. I like to use a black background for slideshows with white text.

The Appearance Panel allows us to change the layout features such as adding an identity plate and determine the size of thumbnail and image size.

The Image Info panel gives me the opportunity to add titles and/or captions to each photo, assuming I included this information in the metadata for each photograph.

The Output Settings panel allows me to set the size and quality of the images, add watermarks, and sharpen on output.

Finally, the Upload Panel is where we can setup our ftp server information for automatic uploading. I ignore this panel and prefer to export manually because I create a username and password so that the photos of these young players are protected. This process is a topic for another discussion at a later time.

Once I make all the changes to get the web gallery just the way I want it to look, I double-check to make sure the preview is exactly as I imagined it should look. The uploading process takes some time, so I want to be sure things are correct now. Otherwise I might have to another upload, which only takes more time.

I export the newly created web gallery to my hard drive. Then I use my web design software to upload the gallery onto a new folder on my server, which is the last step in this process. You can see an example of a slideshow I created by following these directions here. A visitor to my website can scroll through each image manually one-by-one or opt to start the slideshow and have  the photos scrolled through automatically.

This is really easy to do and I use this or a similar feature after every photo shoot. Lightroom makes it very customizable and easy to do. Give it a try yourself!