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Archive 2012 · Lightroom Pitfalls
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Lightroom Pitfalls

I just bought Lightroom 3, hoping to make order out of chaos. I have an existing collection of images, maybe 80,000 or so, some on line, some on drives sitting on shelves, etc. The important stuff is compulsively (but somewhat chaotically) backed up, with some backup images that have been subsequently edited sprinkled on offline drives. There are many duplicates and near duplicates in the collection.

Here are some questions:

1. I assume there are possible mistakes, chances to create rework, maybe lose images, and general opportunities to create "Gee, I wish I had done that differently..." situations. Does anyone know of notable things to avoid when undertaking a project like this one with Lightroom.

2. Can someone discuss the differences between catalogs and collections?

3. I have Scott Kelby's book, which looks pretty good, but I might like to complement it with another, if anyone has suggestions. Something with better organized advice than Kelby provides on structuring image collections might be helpful. He probably has everything in there, but the view from 10,000 feet seems lacking.

4. Early in the book, Kelby seems to recommend converting RAW images to DNG, for space savings and more efficient metadata handling, but the rest of the book seems not to mention DNG much. The examples generally assume RAW, JPEG, and TIFF. Can you use a DNG exactly as if it were a RAW file? Any cautions?

Any other input would be welcome. Thanks to all.

Jan 28, 2012 at 01:27 PM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Lightroom Pitfalls

As to LR3 books, in addition to the one by Scott Kelby that you mention I would suggest the following:

- "The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Book - The Complete Guide for Photographers" by Martin Evening (651 pages). Personally I find Martin's books to be the most thorough on the subject.

- "Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 - the missing FAQ" by Victoria Bampton (499 pages). This book is written in a little different style, and is a very worthwhile addition and supplement to Martin's (and Scott's) book.

If you want more specific information on either of these books, looking at the user review on Amazon.com will give you a good idea.

I also have the book "D-65's Lightroom Workbook - Workflow, Not Workslow in Lightroom 3" by Seth Resnick & Jamie Spritzer (482 pages). Each book has its own perspective and something different to say on the subject.

Recognize that LR4 books will be coming out before too long, although much of what is in the LR3 books will be similar to that in LR4. You can either wait for the LR4 books or supplement the LR3 books with the excellent LR4 material and videos that are already on the web or will be there.


Jan 28, 2012 at 05:01 PM
sevan pulurian
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Lightroom Pitfalls

splathrop wrote:
I just bought Lightroom 3, hoping to make order out of chaos. I have an existing collection of images, maybe 80,000 or so, some on line, some on drives sitting on shelves, etc. The important stuff is compulsively (but somewhat chaotically) backed up, with some backup images that have been subsequently edited sprinkled on offline drives. There are many duplicates and near duplicates in the collection.

Here are some questions:

1. I assume there are possible mistakes, chances to create rework, maybe lose images, and general opportunities to create "Gee, I wish I had done that differently..." situations. Does anyone know
...Show more


1. Pre plan how you want to have your images catalogs, meaning by location or shoot description, then with in that by date, client name etc. Use whatever system works best for you. My way of organizing my images might not work for you, so pick whatís suites your needs and organize by that.

2. Catalogs, you can have multiple of a single catalog in LR. For example I shoot wildlife, motorsports and events. Now I have a catalog for all my birding and wildlife images, then one for all my motorsports images and one for all my event images. Default for LR3 is Lightroom 3 catalog. No you can create new catalogs, and create as many as you want. I would not create a new catalog for every client if you do weddings or model shoots, just create a single catalog for weddings and so on. Now once you create a catalog and import all the images pertaining to that catalog you will only see those images when you open that catalog only, they will not show up in any other catalog. Within catalogs you can have your clients or subjects organized in folders and those are organized by drives, so you might want to have all your images in one location on a single drives and back up that drive as usual. Also backing up catalogs is a good thing as well. I would also relocate you LR catalogs to another location then what LR defaults them to. I have all my images and LR catalogs and back up on to a single drive dedicated only for LR and my images and back-up that drive to another so all my images and LR stuff is together.
Now, collections. When you are in any module in LR in the upper right corner of any image, you will see a little circle. Starts off clear with a dotted circle around it, if you click on it will turn grey with a black outer circle. When you do this it will put that image into a quick collection, you can but as many images in a collection as you want, and for example you are going through all your images of 2011 and want to make a best of 2011 collection. You simply go through your images and click the circle on all the images you want to put into that collection, then in the library module you will see a catalog section right under the navigator. In there you will see quick collection but you have to right click on it and say save as target collection or you wonít see images added to it. Once you have all the images in the collection right click on quick collection and then save quick collection, this will pop up a window and you save it as best of 2011 or whatever you want to call it, then you can have it clear the se quick selection once it saves it or not, donít worry this will only clear the quick collection once the images are set into the collection you just created. Once you save, you will see your saved collection under the collections tab on the left side. Now your images are still in the original location on the HDD abut in LR you just created a separate collection. It basically means what it says itís a collection of images and nothing else. You can right click on that collection and export it as a catalog and a lot more just try it out.

3. As per the Kelby book or any books at that, that are good but a waste of money IMHO! I bought the first LR and Kelbys book and look at the book once or twice then it sat on the shelf from then on, Google is your best friend of as on the forums, free advice is always good. There are plenty of extremely helpful videos on you tube and what not and much clearer at that.

4. I never use DNG, just import my CR2(RAW) files as they are then edit in Photoshop as needed, if you are worried about space you better start buying HDDís cause that all photography takes up is SPACE and lots of it. I donít know a lot about DNG so I canít say if you can use it the same as a raw file.
Donít forget you can sort you images by Metadata in the library mode. Press the \ key on a PC should be the same on a MAC and in the library mode (G) it will toggle the Library Filter, from there you can sort by lens, focal length in specific, date taken, camera body , f-stop, iso speed etc and by hovering the mouse just to the right of of the description you will drop down another window that has a lot mof other ways you can sort your images by. Also you can click on all photographs in the catalog section and search all you photographs in the library module by metadata as well of individual folders also. LR is capable of a lot of cataloging and sorting out you just need to understand how to use it.

Also tag your photos at the beginning of your work flow so you don't have to go back like I did and tag all 100k images. FML!!!

Hope this helps.


Jan 28, 2012 at 05:21 PM
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Lightroom Pitfalls

I recommend structuring your image folders on the HD in a logical fashion, independently of LR. When you "Import" into LR, it does not actually do anything to the images, it just makes note of where they are and builds its own catalog of information to describe each one.

This can be done before pulling into LR or after, but I would get at least the basic structure roughed out first. The amount of chaos you have at the moment will determine if you should do it before or after. For example, you can set LR to not import duplicates. Since you said you have random duplicates, organizing after, may work better for you. When you move an image in LR, it moves on the HD.

You may already have done this but choose a high level structure that gives a basic structure for you. I have Year then shoot topic within the year, prefaced by numeric date so they are arranged in chronological order within the year. for example in the 2012 folder I have a folder "01-25 New York City), I find the folder names must be descriptive for me to find things.

Jan 28, 2012 at 09:01 PM
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Lightroom Pitfalls

Avoid DNG until you really need it. Unless you intend to scrap your raw files the DNG offers no space advantage. If you preserve your raw files within the DNG files then the DNG files will be bigger not smaller. If you do not use xmp sidecar files and choose instead to let Lr keep all of the metadata in its catalog database then that's another reason not to bother with DNG. I use raw files and will keep it that way. Over time better raw converters come along (including ACR) and allow improvements in your old images - but you won't get that if the raw data has already been converted into smaller DNG files with last years converter technology.

The best way to manage your files within Lr is to use a single catalog. You cannot easily work with multiple catalogs at the same time and it is so easy to find things in a single catalog that you may not need to use multiple catalogs - unless there's some stuff that you really don't want anyone else to see while your main catalog is open.

Gotchas? One is that to make the catalog show the image folder hierarchy as it would appear on the drive you need to show parent folders but if you you show too many parent folder levels then you start getting folders that have no images and just push your folder list off to the right where it cannot be read. You cannot undo this ! unless you have saved your catalog beforehand and revert back to that catalog.

If you want to then you can have Lr shift files as it imports them but that will upset your original structure that is available to non-Lr software. There is no need to do this if you do not want to - just add files instead of move files as you import them.

Save the catalog often and certainly before messing with folder structures or deleting / removing files so that you can more easily recover from user errors. Save it onto multiple drives - online and offline. Protect it at all costs because if you lose it then you lose all of the ratings and tweaks that you might have done with your images.

Sidecar .xmp files spread the risk and reduce it in some ways, but increase it in others. Non-Lr software can easily separate your main files from sidecar files. And sidecar files mess up your folders when you use other software to browse the images. On the plus side you can reload stuff from sidecar files into a catalog but you won't have to if you keep your catalog safe.

In Lr it is possible to remove far more files than you intended to because Lr has unselected files, selected files and a most selected file. You might want to delete the most selected file only but all of the selected files will go too. You tend not to make that mistake very often

The biggest gotcha: relocating files outside Lr after you have built the Lr catalog. That breaks the catalog links to the files and finding missing files can be messy (less so if they all come under a single parent folder). Do all relocations, renaming, etc. inside Lr or else before you import the files into the Lr catalog.

It is possible to have a minimal folder/file structure and just rely on metadata and your own keywording and ratings to manage your collection, but that pretty much makes it impossible for other software and the operating system to find files. Even though you chose to use Lr there is still merit in letting Nikon software access Nikon images and Canon software access Canon images, and for that they need some structure.

I'm not sure how you will go with many external drives - especially if they happen to have the same drive letter coded into them by Windows. Lr may well get confused. It might pay to put a parent folder on each backup drive that identifies the intended drive for you (not so much for Lr). Label the drive accordingly.

Another gotcha: keep raw and jpg/tiff files as separate entities within Lr. This must be set up before you import the files because it cannot be undone for those file pairs without re-importing them. They can still be grouped together by filename, although I tend to work only with raw files and discard the jpgs.

When importing files you might end up with duplicate names. That can be messy too. Lr may not recognize all duplicates as being duplicates because they might have different dates or whatever. That can work for you or against you. There's no real need to import backups unless you suspect they are different from the main files already in the catalog. You can do it but it will clutter things up quite a bit.

Catalogs hold everything about the files that have been imported (even if the files remain where they originally were on the drives). You may only ever need one catalog. It can span multiple drives and folders or partial drives and folders.

Collections are like a list of selected images that look like a folder but are not - the files are still where they were. Collections are just a convenience tool for grouping files as if they were relocated. One image can be listed in multiple collections. Lr 4 will let you have sub-collections within collections and that will be even more useful.

The Martin Evening book is perhaps more of a reference book and is more likely to be viewed at a later date as you try to take on more aspects of what Lr can do. It had a couple of basic gaps that let me down when I first started but now I cannot recall what they were, and if I read the whole book again I would probably not recognize them because my own knowledge now plugs those gaps.

- Alan

Jan 29, 2012 at 05:27 PM

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