Monday, July 20th, 2009

5 Lightroom mistakes to avoid

If you are new to working in Lightroom your first few weeks will be a steep learning curve. Here are my top 5 mistakes to be aware of and avoid when you’re starting out. I hope they’ll save you wasting time, getting frustrated and generally tearing your hair out.

1 Think – Navigate on the left – Keyword on the right.
Ok, so this isn’t exactly true but basically, in the Library module, your navigation options are on the left and bottom of the screen and the Keywording options are on the right.

The typical mistake you’ll make is to open the Keywording or Keyword List areas of the panel on the right and click on a checkbox for a keyword or click one of the keyword sets thinking that somehow this will select and display images with those keywords – Not so! Instead you just added those keywords to the selected image or images.

You can filter by keyword using the Keyword list in the panel on the right and you do so by clicking the small arrow to the right of the keyword – that switches to display all the images with this keyword.

2 Don’t move your photos – except in Lightroom.
This is a biggie. Once you bring images into Lightroom, Lightroom tracks where they are on disk. If you delete or, worse still, move the images from one folder to another one, the links inside Lightroom will be broken. If you rename your folders then the links to them and to the images in them will be broken too. In a very short time you can wreak havoc on your Lightroom catalog – this is the voice of experience speaking here! In short, once your photos are in Lightroom, manage them in Lightroom.

If you break the links to your photos, Lightroom will still display the previews and it will tell you the “The file named xxx is offline or missing”. If you moved the image, right click it and choose Find in Explorer and you can then click Locate and browse to locate the folder you moved it to.

When you locate the missing image, click it to select it and also enable the “Find nearby missing photos” checkbox as chances are if this image has been moved other photos in the same area of the catalog will have moved too and Lightroom will now locate and update their details in the catalog too.

3 Don’t by pass a valuable organizing opportunity

When you import images into Lightroom they’re immediately added to a new category called Previous Import. They stay there until you import more images. Having all your newly imported images in a single collection lets you do things with them such as adding keywords, sorting them, moving them into new folders and even preprocessing them as a group and without having to search for them.

However, you’ll need to do some fancy footwork if you want to bring in more than one set of images into Lightroom and to manage them all at once using this temporary catalog. One such situation would be where you capture two or more cards of related images at a time such as a wedding or other event, or photo walk.

In this situation, you can avoid losing the benefits of the Previous Import catalog by dumping all the images from multiple cards into a single folder on your disk outside Lightroom and then import the folder of images into Lightroom. Now all the imported images will appear in the Previous Import catalog and you can organize and pre-process them as a group. They stay in this category even if you close Lightroom and reopen it and only disappear when you import another set of images.

4 Don’t make work for yourself

When you capture a number of images in a single location or with a particular light you can batch process them in Lightroom and save yourself hours of work. To do this, choose one representative image from the group and use either the Quick Develop tools in the Library module or switch to the Developer module and make your initial fixes there. Fixes that you might apply to a sequence of images include White Balance, Exposure, Recovery, Fill Light and Blacks. Remember you don’t have to get it 100% right, just better than it was.

When you’re done, right click this image and choose Develop Settings > Copy Settings and select the settings that you have just made to the image and that you want to copy and click the Copy button. Now select the other images in the sequence, right click and choose Develop Settings > Paste Settings to paste these changes onto all the selected images. These changes give you a starting point for your work in Lightroom.

5 Don’t risk losing your sidecars
If you’re working in Camera RAW (not DNG) any changes you make to an image in Lightroom are stored in the sidecar XMP file for the image – because it is not possible to write data into a proprietary Camera RAW file. So, when you send a RAW image to someone else they can’t see your edits unless they have the sidecar XMP file that goes with it. Long term you need to make sure your RAW files and their XMP files always stay together.

Because of this, many users prefer either to capture in the non proprietary DNG format rather than Camera RAW if their cameras offer this as an option or to convert to DNG as the RAW image files are imported into Lightroom. Converting to DNG rather than working in Camera RAW ensures that changes can be stored in the DNG file making it easier to manage your images now and in the future.

To convert to DNG as you import your files, choose File > Import Photos From Disk and select the folder or files to import. When the Import Photos dialog appears, choose the “Copy photos as Digital Negative (DNG) and add to catalog” command and then choose a folder to store them in. Complete the remainder of the dialog options and click Import to import and convert them in the one step.

Helen Bradley

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Keywords and Lightroom – the basics

As with any photo management tool Lightroom 2 offers you the ability to add keywords to your images. In this way you can make it easier to find images later on by searching for them by keyword. One simple way of adding keywords to your images is to do this as you import your images into Lightroom. Of course this requires that you’re importing a series of images which all share the same keywords. As this is not always the case, you may need to add keywords from inside Lightroom and I’ll show you how to do this.

Start in the Library module in Lightroom. While it appears possible to select multiple images in the Filmstrip whilst in Loupe view and add keywords to them this is not the case. The keywords will be added to only the first of the selected images and not all of them. Not only is this frustrating but it also is a little misleading.

Step 1
Instead, to add keywords to multiple images at the one time you need to select Grid view (G). Select the images to add the keyword to and type a keyword in the Keyword Tags panel on the left of the screen (open Keywording) to access this. You can also drag and drop a keyword from the Keyword Suggestions onto the selected images.

Step 2
You can add keywords to any image from the Keyword List by selecting the images, then right click the keyword in the Keyword List and choose Assign this keyword to Selected Photos.

Step 3
Once you have added keywords to your images you can find the images by keywords by accessing the Filter panel. Press \ to toggle the display of this panel which appears above the Grid panel of images. Select Text, in the first box, select Keywords in the second box select Contains All (or Contain) and type the keywords in the last box. Contains All is an AND search and requires that an image contain both keywords such as Florence and Church. Contain is used for an OR search which would return all images with either or both the keywords, Florence or Church. To cancel the search, click the X button in the search field.

While keywords aren’t the easiest thing to get a grip on, in Lightroom they are key to being able to index and find your images quickly.

I contribute to the Digital Photography School blog and this post first appeared on that site.

Helen Bradley

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Adding Keywords to multiple images in Lightroom

Let’s preface this blog entry by stating that what follows makes no sense at all.

I ran into some inconsistent Lightroom behaviour when trying to add keywords to images. The scenario was this: I needed to add the same keyword to a number of photos all at once. While you can do this as you import the images, sometimes you’ll be importing images which shouldn’t all have the same keywords so doing it in Lightroom later on makes more sense.

Problem is that you have to be in the right view to do it – choose the wrong one and you can waste a lot of time and have precious little to show for it. Please Adobe – make this simpler and more intuitive because right now it’s darn right frustrating and it really makes no sense at all.

Until Adobe fixes the problem, here’s the low down on adding the same keywords to multiple images in Lightroom. First select the Library and then choose Grid View, if you don’t this things will fail, miserably. Choose View > Grid or click the Grid View button.

Now select the images to add the keywords to – click on one and Shift + Click on the last, for example. Type the keywords in the box which says “Click here to add keywords” and press Enter.

You can also copy keywords from one image and then paste them into others by copying the keywords then select the images to paste into (making sure you are in Grid view – it doesn’t work otherwise) and then paste the keywords into the “Click here to add keywords” box – use Control + V to do this.

If you try this and it fails you’re not in Grid view. Heaven help me – there’s no reason I can see why you should have to go into Grid View to do it but you do.. so now you know.

Helen Bradley