October 2010



Last night I still had my lights set up from some previous shooting and decided to take some self-portraits. I figure when I don’t have anything else to shoot, I might as well volunteer to be my own subject. I like trying to cement in my head some of the differences in ways I can light the same scene and see how it changes the mood.

As with many photographers, I’m never really a fan of seeing myself in front of the camera, but if I am going to ask others to do it, I gotta do it too!

Canon 5D Mark II. Lighting: AB1600 camera right shot into collapsed reflected umbrella; AB800 on axis high & behind camera for fill. Processed in Lightroom for increased contrast, color & saturation.

Passport Photos – Lightroom Template

Heather Passport Photos.jpg

My lovely bride and I are going on an out-of-the-country cruise next year, and though I have a current passport Heather does not. Of course rather than get a photo taken at a local story with their lovely house fluorescent lighting, I did a quick set up to take our own.

When I sat down to the computer I realized I had made a Photoshop layout in the past for passport photos, but had found the results unsatisfying. Here’s a little background as to why:

  • The US government has some pretty strict specifications you are to follow for a proper passport photo. You can read a bit more about it here.
  • My previous layout had placed 6, 2″x2″ photos on a 4″x6″ file that I figured maximized the space and gave me some spare photos
  • When I learned is that most print labs slightly enlarge your photo to fit their print process so they can provide a borderless photo
  • This slight cropping both enlarged the actual print size of my 2″x2″ photos, plus it cropped them in undesirable ways causing the photos to be improperly centered and therefore not meeting the required specifications

Being that I use Lightroom for 95% of my digital photo workflow, and that I get asked fairly often by friends if I can help them make a quick ID or passport photo, I figured a print template was needed. I did quick search online, and though some templates seemed to exist, a quick search didn’t bring up any free ones. Definitely something needing to be fixed!

I created a quick layout for the Print Module that creates a 6″x4″ file at 300ppi, cut guidelines and a message asking the print lab to print at actual size. The photo you have chosen can be selected and will auto fill the two placements within the template.

Here are a few tips to help you get just the right placement of your photo:

  • Be sure “zoom to fill” and “rotate to fit” are selected in the Image Settings of the Print Module
  • If your photo is off center, you can Command-Click-n-Drag (Control on PC) to move the photo around within the box
  • If you need to further adjust placement, you can go back to the Rotate tool within the Develop Module to adjust the sizing of the original image
  • You may need to edit your “Identity Plate” text to have the correct message appear advising the print shop to print actual size.
  • Under the “Print Job” pane of the Print Module, select Print to “JPEG file,” then when you are ready just click “Print to file” to then output your image

That’s it. You now have a perfectly sized set of two photos (what is usually required for most passport and ID needs) that you can upload to your favorite print shop!

If you’d like a copy of this template, you can download it here.

Of course you need to have Adobe Lightroom installed for this to be of any use to you. To install, simply go to the Print Module, then right click the “User Templates” or any other custom folder, then choose “import.” Enjoy!

Edit: Oh, why a 4×6 instead of a 3.5×5 you ask? Because Lightroom’s minimum document size for the Print Module is 4×6 🙂

The Last Light


Newport Beach, CA.