Standalone/Lightroom Features

 

This section discusses the features that are only available in the Standalone and Lightroom versions of ContrastMaster.

Opening Images

The Lightroom version of ContrastMaster does not let you open any images. You need to select the images in Lightroom before running ContrastMaster.

The Standalone version supports various ways of opening images. There is an Open button at the bottom right of the window or an Open menu item displayed when you click on the arrow-down button at the top left corner of the preview. Both displays an file dialog for selecting image files. To select multiple image files please hold down the Ctrl or Shift key and click on them. Alternatively draw a rectangle around them to select them.

Another way of opening image files is to drag them, e.g. from Explorer, and drop them on the ContrastMaster window. It is also possible to drag and drop files on the ContrastMaster icon on the desktop. This runs ContrastMaster and immediately opens the dropped images. Yet another way to open image files is to run ContrastMaster from the command line.

 

RAW Settings

When opening camera raw files with the Standalone version, the Options dialog shows up by default. If you do not want that, please activate the "Don't Display" check box. You can then still change these settings from menu of the arrow-down button at the top left corner of the preview. You can also access this dialog from the Save Options and Batch dialog as discussed below.

The RAW tab sheet of the Options dialog defines how the raw image data will be converted and preprocessed before it shows up in ContrastMaster.

The Preview group contains options that are used when opening RAW images for preview display. The Output group options are used when saving or batch processing images. With default settings RAW images are opened at quarter size for preview display, which speeds up the loading. Before applying the effect and saving the image, they are reopened at full size. There is also an option to open the JPEG image that is embedded into the RAW file (that currently only works for CR2 raw files), which is only recommended for the Preview group, unless you want to quickly convert your RAW files for the web or screen display.

The White Balance combo box controls the automatic white balancing process. The Camera Settings option performs a color correction according to the data stored in the RAW file. The Automatic option white balances the image according to the image data. If you do not want to apply a color correction, simply choose the None option.

The Color Space options let you choose the color space of the image. "sRGB" retains the least color information, but is practical if you want to use the image for the web or screen display or if you want to open the image later in an application that does not support color management. If you plan to print the image professionally, you should rather choose "Adobe RGB" or "ProPhoto RGB". The ProPhoto RGB color space preserves the most color information.

The Neutral Look check box performs less preprocessing of the RAW file, which makes the image look a bit flat but may not cut off any shadow or highlight values. So this option is recommended for photos with a lot of information in highlight and shadow areas. If this check box is deactivated more preprocessing is applied, which will probably be what you may want for most images.

The 4-Color-Sensor check box is meant for RAW files that were captured with a camera that uses a 4-color-sensor. If raw files have artifacts when displayed, you should try this option.

The Defaults button restores the default settings, which can be seen in the screen shot above.

 

Switching Between Images

If you open more than one image, a Images tab control appears on the left hand side of the preview. The Images tab sheet contains a list box with the names of the opened image files. By clicking on one of them you can display them in the preview. You can also switch between the images by using the Images sub menu of the arrow-down button that is located at the at the top left corner of the preview. This sub menu lists all opened image files.

ContrastMaster does not load or keep the images in memory. It loads an image as you select it and removes it from memory when selecting another image. So displaying a big image for the first time may take longer, but on the other hand opening multiple images is instant or only takes the time of loading one image. Additionally it avoids that image processing operations get slow because of low memory.

 

Using Different Settings for Each Image

There is an Individual Settings check box located at the bottom of the Images tab sheet. It is activated by default, which means that you can adjust each image differently. When switching from one image to another, the settings of the old images are automatically saved and the settings of the new image are restored. If you switch to an image for the first time, it takes over the settings of the previous image. When saving or batch processing the images, these individual effect settings are used for processing each image.

If this check box is deactivated, each image will be processed with the same effect settings. The currently displayed settings are then applied to all images. You can also deactivate and activate the check box again to delete the stored individual settings, e.g. in order to start again adjusting the settings for each image.

 

Closing an Image

Closing an image is only possible with the Standalone version. If you are using the Lightroom version, you need to cancel ContrastMaster, return to Lightroom to deselect the image(s) and run ContrastMaster again.

Closing an image means that the currently selected image is removed from the Images list box and the next image on the list is displayed. If you only have one image open, the preview becomes blank when closing that image. You can close an image by using the Close button at the bottom of the Images tab sheet or by choosing the Close item on menu of the the arrow-down button at the at the top left corner of the preview. The Close All option on the same menu closes all opened images.

 

Saving an Image

The Lightroom version applies the effect and automatically saves the images when you press the OK button. It does not offer any special save options.

The Standalone version on the other hand offers various options for saving the displayed image. You can use the Save As button at the bottom right or the Save As menu item on the menu of the arrow-down button located at the top left. Both display a file dialog for choosing a folder, editing the file name and choosing an image format. After you pressed the Save button on the file dialog a Save Options dialog appears. On this dialog you can choose additional file format options.

The Save Options dialog lets you change the image format and adjust additional settings. For the JPEG format you can choose a quality setting and for the TIFF format you can select a lossless compression type. If at least one of the current images uses 16-bit/channel, you are also able to use a "Reduce to 8-bit/channel" check box for the TIFF, PSD and PNG format. The "Convert to sRGB" option lets you convert the image to the sRGB profile in case it uses another profile. If you do not want to have any meta data added to the saved file, please activate the "Do not save meta data" check box.

A button that displays the RAW Options dialog is also available here. It lets you readjust the settings for camera raw files. In this case only the settings on its Output tab sheet have an effect. We do not recommend changing its Look or White Balance options, otherwise the end result will differs from what you saw in the preview. See above for more information on the RAW Options.

After you press OK on the Save Options dialog, the effect is applied to the image and the image is saved.

 

Batch Processing

Whereas the Save As command only lets you save one image, you can also process and save all opened images in one pass with the Batch command of the Standalone version. The Lightroom version does not offer a Batch command, but when you press its OK button, it automatically starts batch processing without showing a dialog.

The Batch feature of in the Standalone version processes all opened images, so if you want to process only some of the opened images, please close the others. You can be access it by pressing the Batch button on the Images tab sheet or with the Batch menu item of the arrow-down button located at the left top. This brings up the Batch dialog.

On this dialog you can choose the image format and its options (see Save Options above), an output folder and a suffix that will be appended to the file name. Clicking on the Choose button displays a folder selection dialog which also offers an option for creating new folders. If you only want to convert the image(s) to another image format without applying an effect, you should activate the Deactivate Effect check box.

The RAW Options button displays a dialog for adjusting the raw file output. In this case only the settings of its Output group have an effect. We do not recommend changing its Look or White Balance options, otherwise the end result will differs from what you saw in the preview. See above for more information on the RAW Settings.

After you pressed the Batch button ContrastMaster starts processing all opened images. A window with a progress bar appears that tells you how many images still have to be processed and how long it will approximately take.

 

Color Management

Whereas color management support depends on the host application for the plugin version, the Standalone and Lightroom versions of ContrastMaster fully supports color management. This means that ContrastMaster uses profiles that are embedded in JPEG, TIFF and PNG files to correctly display the image colors. Concerning camera raw files ContrastMaster automatically converts the image to a selectable color space (see the RAW Settings section above). Color management is currently not supported for image formats other than the four mentioned ones. For other image files and for images without a profile ContrastMaster automatically assumes that they contain sRGB data.

Embedded profiles are preserved when opening JPEG, TIFF and PNG files and saving them again. If an image file does not includes a profile but mentions the sRGB color space in its EXIF data, ContrastMaster automatically embeds a sRGB profile when saving the image. When saving RAW files as JPEG, TIFF or PNG, a profile is also embedded. When saving an image as PSD, no profile is embedded.

You can adjust the color management options by choosing "Options" from the arrow-down menu at the top left corner of the preview and then switching to the Color tab sheet.

The Deactivate Color Management check box avoids that the embedded or assigned profile is used for displaying an image. This means that images with a different color space than your monitor will be displayed incorrectly. For example, an Adobe RGB image will be displayed with faded colors on a sRGB monitor. Unless you have a good reason, we do not recommend activating this option.

The Use Monitor Profile check box makes ContrastMaster use the profile, which is set at Start > Control Panel > Display > Settings > Advanced > Color Management, as the target profile when displaying images. In most cases it is wise to keep this check box deactivated. Then ContrastMaster assumes that your monitor supports sRGB (which is the case for 99.9% of all monitors) and uses the sRGB profile as the target profile. ContrastMaster also assumes that your monitor is calibrated.

There are only two possible reasons for activating this check box:

1. Your monitor supports another color space than sRGB and you have set the appropriate profile at Start > Control Panel > Display > Settings > Advanced > Color Management. For example, if your monitor is an Adobe RGB monitor and you have set the Adobe RGB profile at the mentioned location. Then activating Use Monitor Profile check box makes sure that ContrastMaster displays the colors correctly on your non-sRGB monitor. Please notice that your monitor additionally needs to be calibrated and the calibration applied when Windows starts up, otherwise you will still not see the image colors correctly.

2. Your monitor was not calibrated and no calibration data is loaded when Windows starts up, but you have a monitor profile from the manufacturer, which you want to use and which you have added under Start > Control Panel > Display > Settings > Advanced > Color Management. Be aware that only the image in ContrastMaster (and other applications that support it) will be displayed with correct colors. The rest of the screen is displayed uncalibrated and with incorrect colors. This is only an emergency solution. We recommend that you calibrate your monitor instead.

The Conversion group offers two option for defining how ContrastMaster converts the colors when displaying an image. The Intent combo box offer four choices that control the method that is used for mapping the colors from the source color space to the target color space. The activated Black Point Compensation check box changes the black point during the conversion to better match the target color space. In many cases changing these settings has only little influence, but we recommend to keep "Relative Colorimetric" and the Black Point Compensation check box activated. For more information please read the web or literature about color management.

 

Metadata and Auto Rotation

ContrastMaster currently preserves the metadata of JPEG files (e.g. EXIF, IPTC) when saving the image again as a JPEG. When opening and saving TIFF images, ContrastMaster only preserves the XMP, IPTC and Photoshop tags. When saving an image as a different format, no metadata is currently preserved. This will be fixed in a future update.

In Adobe Lightroom you can copy the original metadata to the ContrastMaster-processed images by selecting all images, e.g. with Edit > Select All, and choosing Metadata > Sync Metadata.

Some cameras add EXIF data to JPEG and RAW files if the photo was shot at a 90 degree angle. ContrastMaster checks for this information and automatically rotates the image before displaying it.