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How to Use DNG Files on Your iPhone With Lightroom Mobile, RAW or ProCam 4

by on Nov.12, 2016, under Post Production

The recent release of iOS 10 saw an important update to the iPhone’s operating system for photographers. If you own an iPhone with a 12-megapixel camera (that is an iPhone 6S/Plus, iPhone 7/Plus, iPhone SE or even an iPad Pro 9.7) the operating system now allows third party camera apps to save photos in the DNG format. That’s excellent news for iPhone photographers as it means that you can now realize the potential of your phone’s camera.

iPhone DNG file

Image quality improvements

The advantage of using DNG (rather than JPEG) as the file format is that you can process the DNG files in Lightroom (or your software of choice). This gives you much greater control over noise reduction and sharpening, as well as color and tonal adjustments. Photos processed by the iPhone and saved in JPEG format often suffer from smearing caused by noise reduction, especially if taken in low light. Using DNG lets you avoid that.

This photo was taken at ISO 125 (fairly high for an iPhone, whose lowest ISO setting is 25) using the JPEG format (all other photos in this article are from DNG files).

iPhone DNG file

This 100% magnification from part of the image shows the smearing caused by the iPhone’s processing. To me, it looks like someone has applied a filter in Photoshop that is meant to make the photo look like a painting.

iPhone DNG file

This photo was taken at ISO 250 using the DNG format. A smartphone camera is not the best tool for shooting in low light, but I wanted to test the camera under these conditions.

iPhone DNG file

This is a 100% magnification. I processed the photo using Lightroom’s default noise reduction settings. There is plenty of noise (exaggerated by the increased Clarity needed to get the best out of iPhone files) but no smearing.

iPhone DNG file

DNG files are also much better for converting to black and white than JPEG files. Black and white shooters will appreciate the ability to process their own Raw files and not rely on the camera’s software to do it.

Here’s a black and white version of the opening photo that I made using Lightroom for conversion.

iPhone DNG file

What you need to know

The important thing you need to know is that, at the time of writing, the iPhone’s native Camera app doesn’t have the ability to save your photos in the Raw format. You need a third-party one. Let’s take a look at some of the choices available.

Lightroom mobile

Lightroom mobile lets you take, save, and process DNG files on your iPhone. This is brilliant if you’re a Lightroom CC subscriber as it lets you take full advantage of all of Lightroom mobile’s features.

The only disadvantage of using Lightroom mobile is that the photos you take are stored within the Lightroom mobile app and not in the Camera Roll. That means you can’t download your DNG files by connecting your iPhone to your computer using the lightning cable.

Please note: If you’re not a Lightroom CC subscriber, you can still download Lightroom mobile for your iPhone and use it to take Raw photos. However – and this is very important – there is no way to save the Raw files to your Camera Roll or get at them without a CC subscription. I understand that Adobe software engineers are working on a solution to this, and hopefully, it will be implemented in a future version of Lightroom mobile.

iPhone DNG file

How it works

Lightroom mobile uploads photos taken with the camera, to Adobe’s servers. These are then downloaded by Lightroom desktop or Lightroom mobile on another device such as a tablet. You can set Lightroom mobile to sync only over wi-fi networks, so you don’t have to worry about using up data. But, given that DNG files are larger than JPEG files, it does mean that if you take photos in any volume it’s going to take a while for them to synchronize across devices.

Lightroom mobile’s camera app is a little more sophisticated than the iPhone’s camera app and lets you set white balance and exposure compensation.

As we’ve seen, Lightroom mobile works well under the right circumstances. But if you’re not a CC subscriber or you don’t have fast wi-fi, then you may want to look elsewhere for an app that lets you save photo files in the DNG format.

iPhone DNG file


500px have released a free camera app called RAW that lets you capture DNG files and edit them on your phone. The RAW app lets you create model releases, upload and license your photos on the 500px website, and use filters created by other RAW app users to process your photos.

The app also lets you save DNG files to the Camera Roll. So that you can download them by connecting your iPhone to your computer without having to rely on a wi-fi connection. You can only do this one at a time, though. So it’s a time-consuming process if you shoot a lot of photos. The camera in the app itself is also quite limited – you can tap on the screen to select the focus point but that’s the only control you have over the camera.

iPhone DNG file


The VSCO Cam app (also free, AND available for Android users too!) doesn’t support DNG yet but according to a recent press release DNG support is coming in a future update (date unspecified).

I’m looking forward to this, because the VSCO Cam camera app is quite clever and lets you adjust the exposure, white balance, and flash settings, as well as display a grid and a spirit level on the screen. You can download free presets to process your images (or buy others). But the big advantage is that it saves photos automatically to the Camera Roll, so you can download your DNG files directly from your iPhone if you want, without having to rely on a wi-fi connection.

iPhone DNG file

ProCam 4

If you’re looking for a sophisticated iPhone camera app that supports Raw, saves your DNG files to the Camera Roll, and gives you full manual control over the camera, then I recommend the ProCam 4 app.

It costs a few dollars to buy ($4.99) but is well worth the expenditure. This app lets you adjust ISO, shutter speed and white balance. It also lets you save the same photo in both JPEG and DNG formats in the Camera Roll.

If you take photos in any volume, then the ProCam 4 app is the best one that I’ve used for the iPhone. All you have to do to transfer your DNG files to your computer is connect the iPhone with the lightning cable and import the files using Lightroom (or the computer’s own software). It’s much quicker and easier than waiting for Lightroom mobile to synchronize files, or using the RAW app and saving your photos to the Camera Roll one by one.


Disadvantages of DNG

Are there any disadvantages to using Raw on an iPhone? The only one that I can think of is that DNG files are larger than JPEGs and require more storage space. If you have an iPhone with 64GB or more storage space I don’t think this will be a problem. But if you have 32GB or less, then space management may become an issue if you have lots of DNGs.

More to come in the future

Before we finish I think that it’s important to note that the ability to save DNG files on an iPhone is such a new feature that developers are still rushing to take advantage of it. Expect the apps mentioned in this article to be updated and improved, and for more apps to take advantage of this new feature in the future.

All photos in this article were taken with an iPhone SE and processed in Lightroom.

Do you have an iPhone that lets you use the DNG format? Which apps do you use to take DNG photos? Let us know in the comments.

Editor’s note: There are several Android phones which can shoot RAW files in the DNG format as well. If you have an Android do a google search to find options for your brand and model.

If you’d like to learn more about processing photos in Lightroom then please check out my Mastering Lightroom ebooks.

The post How to Use DNG Files on Your iPhone With Lightroom Mobile, RAW or ProCam 4 by Andrew S. Gibson appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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How to Add a Sun Flare to Your Images Using Photoshop

by on Oct.25, 2016, under Post Production

If you read my previous article where I give you some tips for doing more spectacular sunset photography, you’ll understand that I love taking photos during the magic hour. For my portraits, I also book my sessions during that time because the light is very soft and flattering. There is one thing I particularly like to do when I process my images and that’s adding a sun flare to my portraits and landscapes. I love to use Photoshop to recreating a scene that would have ideally been there in real life.

How to Create a Sun Flare in Photoshop

I added sun flares to this portrait to add depth.

It’s difficult to not underestimate the effect of a sun flare but it really does make a big difference, especially if you like cinematic results to your images. They’re a great way to add color and depth to your images.

Analyze your image first

The process of adding sun flares is actually quite easy, it only takes two steps and a few minutes. The most difficult thing however is to get a realistic result. You need to analyze your image before doing anything. Start by looking at the position of the sun, how the shadows and highlights are wrapping around your subject.

In the image below, I added a sun flare on the left, but before doing that I noticed that the highlights were hitting the Taj Mahal from the left and the shadows were in the right side of the monument. If I were to position the sun flare on the right side of the image, the results wouldn’t be realistic because the highlights and the shadows wouldn’t correspond to the direction of the light of my sun flare. Try to consider the position, direction and intensity of the light.

How to Create a Sun Flare in Photoshop - Taj Mahal

This is another example of a GoPro image I took. I added a sun flare on the right side of the image because the sun was positioned there in real life. We’re not trying to create another sun, we’re just enhancing it with more colors and more intensity.

How to Create a Sun Flare in Photoshop

In this portrait, I added a sun flare to the left of the model. The result looks realistic because you can see the orange flair spreading and lightning the hair of the model but her face isn’t affected.

How to Create a Sun Flare in Photoshop

How to create and add a sun flare in Photoshop

It’s actually quite easy to add a sun flare in Photoshop. Start by opening your file in Photoshop and creating a new empty layer. The next step is to analyze where you want to place your sun flare and how strong do you want the effect to be. In this case, I want to place my sun flare in the top right of the image and make it pretty big. The sun was actually setting in that position but I am not completely satisfied with how it looks. I want to make the flare more vivid and more intense.

How to Create a Sun Flare in Photoshop

Select the Brush Tool and pick a color

The next step is to select the Brush Tool with an opacity and flow of 100%. Make sure to select a soft brush with a hardness of 0%. I usually like to pick my own color of the sun flare, the color code I use is #fd9424, but there are different ways to pick a color for the sun flare.

You can use the Eye Dropper Tool and select a color from the image by pressing I on your keyboard or by selecting it in the tool box on the left (the chosen color will automatically be set in your palette). Or after you have created the flare, you can create a hue/saturation adjustment layer only affecting that layer and just playing around until you find a color you like.

How to Create a Sun Flare in Photoshop

Adding your flare

To create the sun flare, the first step is to simply create one brush stroke (you just have to press once). Make sure your brush is quite big. So far your image should look something like this:

How to Create a Sun Flare in Photoshop

The next step is to go to blending modes for your current layer (the layer with the brush stroke). The default blending mode is normal, you need to change it to Screen. The screen blending mode by definition will invert both layers, multiply them, and invert the result. Your sun flare is going to get brighter and blend in with the sky after you do that.

How to Create a Sun Flare in Photoshop


The next step is to select your layer with the sun flare and press CTRL/CMD+T to transform (resize) it. A little box will appear, you want to drag the corners to make it bigger. How big you want to make it depends on your image and your desired effect. The sun flare will affect the whole image if you make it too big and will brighten up the shadows.

Using a brush tool on a new layer is really helpful because you have full control. You can change the position, color, brightness, or saturation of your flare whenever you want by creating new adjustment layers that only affect that layer.

If you think that your effect if too strong, you can reduce the opacity of the layer, if it is not strong enough, you can duplicate the layer. Always remember that the effect should be subtle otherwise if will look quite unrealistic. We are just trying to create a scene taking in consideration how light works.

How to Create a Sun Flare in Photoshop

 whenever you want

Your turn

Now you try you hand at adding a sun flare to one of your images using Photoshop. Please share your images and any questions in the comments below.

The post How to Add a Sun Flare to Your Images Using Photoshop by Yacine Bessekhouad appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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How to do Non-Destructive Editing in Photoshop

by on Oct.22, 2016, under Post Production

Picture this, you are about halfway through editing a beautiful urban landscape in Photoshop. You’ve already put hours into the image when suddenly you notice that a particular area of the image doesn’t add up. A wall you were working on has accidentally been Clone Stamped to look as if it were hanging at an unnatural angle. It just looks wrong. After repeatedly hitting the undo button you discover that Photoshop can only remember so much, and you are stuck with this disastrous looking edit. All you can do now is waste more precious time trying to fix the problem or close the program and start from square one. If only there was some other way – enter non-destructive editing in Photoshop.

Non-Destructive Editing in Photoshop

Now you see me…now you don’t! Editing with a non-destructive workflow means that you can edit your photos without leaving a trace on the original file.

What is non-destructive editing?

Fortunately, there is a better way! Non-destructive editing (sometimes called NDE for short) is a method of editing in Photoshop that allows you to make changes to an image without overwriting the original image data. This means that you will always be able to backtrack on adjustments made to an image as needed, retaining flexibility and keeping the resolution of the original image intact.

You may have already encountered non-destructive editing while following online tutorials that instruct you to use a particular adjustment layer to make modifications rather than editing the actual image.

Non-destructive editing is not one single technique. You can perform it in numerous ways in Photoshop depending on the desired outcome of an image. For this article, we will have a look at some of the most basic methods used by photographers for doing non-destructive editing .

Duplicating the background layer

No matter what image you have opened in Photoshop, the first step is always to duplicate the background layer. If you do happen to make an adjustment directly onto the image the background layer will remain untouched. Then you can start afresh with all your adjustment layers intact.

To do this, open an image in Photoshop. Move the curser to the thumbnail image in the Layers panel and right click on the shaded area that says Background. Now select the Duplicate Layer option and select OK at the screen prompt. A new layer will appear above the Background layer in the layers panel titled Background Copy.

non-destructive editing duplicate layer

nondestructive editing Photoshop

non-destructive editing

Working with adjustment layers

Simply put, adjustment layers apply colour and tonal adjustments to an image without permanently changing any pixel values. To activate the adjustment layers panel click Window on the top menu bar and select Adjustments. It will bring up a panel with lots of adjustment options such as levels, hue/saturation, brightness/contrast, gradient overlays and black/white.  This is the go-to panel for digital editing and in most cases, it will provide all the editing tools you will need.

Non-Destructive Editing in Photoshop

Select one of the adjustment layers by clicking on an icon. The name of the icon will appear if you rest your mouse on it for a moment. In this example, I have chosen Curves to adjust the contrast in my photograph. Clicking that icon will cause the Curves panel to pop up with the available settings within that adjustment.

non-destructive editing curves

Non-Destructive Editing in Photoshop

Notice that there is now a new layer in the layers panel which is sitting above the one called Background. This means that any layers below the Curves layer will be affected by this adjustment. To limit the effect of an adjustment to a single layer only, right click on the adjustment layer and select Create Clipping Mask. A small arrow pointing down indicates that the adjustment layer will only affect the one that is sitting directly underneath it.

Non-Destructive Editing in Photoshop

Using Smart Filters

Adding a filter to an image can be done non-destructively and will allow you to undo the effects of it later if you change your mind. Click on the layer you would like to apply a filter to and click on the Filter drop-down menu located on the top main toolbar. Select Convert for Smart Filters and a pop-up will appear saying that you must turn the selected layer into a Smart Object. Hit OK and a tiny document shaped icon will appear in the bottom left-hand corner of the selected layer thumbnail image.

non-destructive editing convert smart filters

non-destructive editing smart object

After you select a filter from the Filter Gallery (via Filter > Filter Gallery) and apply it to the image, you will see two new items beneath the selected layer. Clicking on the eye icon next to the Filter Gallery layer will toggle the filter on and off, and double clicking near the Filter Gallery text will open the Filter Gallery adjustments. Right clicking on the Filter Gallery Layer will bring up a menu. If you want to remove a filter altogether, select delete and the filter mask will disappear without degrading your image.

non-destructive editing

Use Layer Masks instead of the Eraser Tool

Masking is one of the more common tools in the Photoshop master’s kit. Using a layer mask allows you to you hide or mmask off parts of an image rather than using the eraser tool to permanently remove parts of an image. To apply a layer mask, open an image, select the layer you want to edit and click on the small icon at the bottom of the layers panel.

non-destructive editing mask

Non-Destructive Editing in Photoshop

A close-up of the Layer Mask button.

A mask will appear next to the layer you have selected, with a small chain icon between the thumbnail and the mask. When you have the image icon selected any effects applied to the image will occur as normal. However, if you select the mask, you will find that painting onto it (with black) will hide parts of that layer.

Close up of the selected mask layer - note the white lines around the corners of the layer.

Close-up of the selected layer mask – note the white lines around the corners indicating which part is active.

Non-Destructive Editing in Photoshop

With the background layer turned off (not visible) you can see that part of this layer is missing, or hidden by the layer mask where it is black. Black conceals or hides, white reveals.

Now, if any hidden portion of the image is painted over in white on the layer, it will be visible again. If you then delete the mask all the hidden areas will reappear.

Dodging and burning non-destructively

The Dodge and Burn tools are used to lighten and darken areas of an image, but applying these effects directly to an image is destructive, preventing you from being able to edit the changes later.

To dodge and burn non-destructively, start by opening up your photo. Duplicate the background layer, then select Layer > New > Layer from the top menu bar. A dialogue box will pop-up, make sure your settings are the same as those shown below and hit OK. A new layer will be created.

Non-Destructive Editing in Photoshop

Create a new layer

Use the settings you see below. That will fill the layer with gray and change the blend mode to make it effective for dodging and burning.

non-destructive editing

Use these settings for your dodge and burn layer.

You can give this layer a nickname to help you remember what it is doing. You can always do it later if you forget, by double-clicking on the layer name. I usually call this layer “dodge/burn”.

Now simply select either the Dodge or Burn tool and apply any adjustments to this new layer. Though you are now editing one layer above the actual image, you have adjusted the blend mode so that the opacity of the grey Dodge/Burn layer is completely transparent, and any changes you make to this layer now appear to only adjust the image, without impacting the quality of the original pixels.

non-destructive editing dodge burn layer

Result of the dodge and burn layer

Result of the dodge and burn layer

Using the Clone Stamp non-destructively

The Clone Stamp is another great tool used to remove bits and pieces you may not want in an image. Normally it works by moving pixels in the original image around but, you guessed it, that is a very destructive technique!

To use the Clone Stamp Tool non-destructively simply create a new layer as before. Next, select the Clone Stamp Tool and in the Sample drop-down menu select the Current & Below option. Now the Clone Stamp Tool will sample everything in the image but only apply any changes to the top most layer.

clone tool

non-destructive editing

The clone layer looks like this.

clone tool non-destructive

The result of the clone layer being applied looks like this.


There are plenty of other methods to edit non-destructively. But as the basics show, non-destructive editing is mostly about using new layers that are placed above the original image rather than adjusting the original image itself. It may seem clunky at first, but it will soon become an automatic part of your workflow. The next time you find yourself with an awkward edit you’ll be glad you can simply turn a layer off rather than starting all over again.

How do you use edit non-destructively in Photoshop?

The post How to do Non-Destructive Editing in Photoshop by Megan Kennedy appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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