Archive for the ‘LightRoom’ Category

If you use Lightroom and Zenfolio you’ll want to check out this post – “Lightroom 1.3 & Export Plugins for SmugMug and Zenfolio” – on Jeffrey Friedl’s blog. He’s written a plugin for Lightroom that will allow you to upload images directly to Zenfolio.

Of course if you haven’t got a Zenfolio account you can get a $5 dollar discount if you sign up with my referral code – NFF-NSE-63Z – 🙂

Update: The download page for the Zenfolio plugin is here.


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I run Lightroom on my laptop and since I started shooting RAW with my Samsung GX-10 the hard drive is filling up pretty quickly. I didn’t want the hassle of fitting a bigger internal drive so I thought I would see if I could get Lightroom to work with an external USB hard drive. This post explains what I did and how I now work with new drive.

I convert my camera DNG files to compressed DNG on import to Lightroom and these are stored in DVD sized directories. As each DVD directory fills up I just create another and continue. Once one of these directories is complete I never create any more new files in it. If I need to edit in an external program I save the derivative file in a separate directory tree – these are also DVD sized for backup. In this way I’m only ever changing the latest RAW and DERIVED directories.

So my directory structure was as follows (this is just an example, there are many more directories than this). A series of DVD sized ‘buckets’ with dated sub-directories for individual shoots.

P:\Photographs – |———– DRV_0001
                                 |———- DRV_0002
                                 |———–RAW_0001—-|——— 2007-06-18 Beach
                                 |                                           |
                                 |                                           |——– 2007-06-20 London

So the plan is as follows.

  • Move the oldest non-changing directories to the external drive.
  • Leave the Lightroom catalogue on the internal laptop drive.
  • Render previews of the images moved to the external drive so that I can view them in the Lightroom Library module without the external drive attached.
  • Only the most recent images that I’m still working on in Develop will be on the internal drive.

And here’s how I did it.

  1. First thing to do is get the external drive configured so that when you plug it in it always maps to the same Windows drive letter. I changed mine to always map as drive Z: so that it does not clash when I plug in other devices.
  2. On this Z: drive I created a new directory call “Archive” which will be the equivalent of the top-level “Photographs” directory on my internal drive.
  3. Start Lightroom.
  4. In the Library view select the ‘+’ next to “Folder” and add the new “Z:\Archive” directory from the external drive.
  5. Now do the following for each Lightroom folder you want to move to the external drive.
    1. Save the metadata to all the files in the folder.
    2. Render standard size previews for all the files in folder so you can browse the pictures in the Library module when the external drive is not connected.
    3. In the Lightroom Library module select the folder name and drag it to the Archive folder. You’ll see a dialog for confirmation that you want to move all the files (including the sub-directories) and then all the files are moved.

So now I have 2 top-level folders in Lightroom; “Photographs” expands to show all the photos on my laptop and “Archive” expands to show all the photos on my laptop.

If I use Lightroom without the external drive connected the “Archive” folder and it’s sub-folders are shown in red to indicate that the image files are missing I can still view them in the Library because of the standard previews in the catalogue.

The only thing I found is that when I moved the folders Lightroom reported a few missing files when I knew they were still there. This appears to be temporary as it corrected itself when I restarted Lightroom. Later I found a note in the Help file that says this can happen. Of course when you browse the Library without the external drive attached it will report missing files but that is to be expected. When you restart Lightroom with the drive attached everything works again as normal.

And that is all there is to it!

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If you’re new to Lightroom you’re going to have questions and one place to find plenty of answers is the Adode Photoshop Lightroom Forum. It’s a user-to-user forum where everyone tries to help each other, at least that’s the plan.

The first thing you’ll learn is that the ‘Automatically write changes into XMP’ option while seeming like the right thing to do will simply kill your Lightroom performance. So many people have posted problems that turned out to be caused by this option that the best advice is simply TURN IT OFF!

Update: Here is a post from the Lightroom development team explaining why this option may cause problems – see Performance & Auto-write XMP.

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In my last post I said that after modifying my keyword hierarchy I couldn’t find a way to select just those files so I could write the metadata back to them. Well there is a way and it’s dead simple once you know.

  • Select “All Photographs”.
  • Sort by “Edit time”.
  • Set sort direction from “Z to A”

Now the most recent file modified is first in the Library view. Select the first thumbnail and scroll down to the last one showing the out of date metadata symbol in the top right corner and then shift select all the images. You can now save the metadata for these files. Easy once you know how 🙂

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After loading my existing images into Lightroom all the existing keywords came in as a flat structure. I thought now would be a good time to try and re-organise these into a proper hierarchy. This was much easier than I thought as it was just a case of dragging the keywords onto others to create parent-child relationships.

You can also mark keywords so they are not exported. This is very handy for keywords you may have at the top of a hierarchy such as “People”.

Of course once the keywords were re-organised I wanted to write the changes back to my image files. I like to do this because then if I change DAM (again) I know my keywords go with me in the images. Lightroom identifies images that need changes written to them with an icon on the thumbnail but there is a slight problem. I can’t find a way to just select all of these images so in the end I had to save the changes back to all the files whether they needed it or not. This was one area that Idimager was very good at, it was easy to query information like this. However, I have to say that Lightroom wrote the changes back to the files very quickly.

I don’t see this as a problem with new photos as I will save the changes to those when I add keywords to them.

Now I have the keyword hierarchy it’s very quick to keyword photos. Just type the first few characters and Lightroom displays the matching keyword(s) automatically adding the parent keywords. The GUI also allows you to view all the parent keywords and to limit it to those that will be exported. The last 9 keywords used also appear on a series of buttons so a single click adds these to another image. You can create Keyword Sets that make use of these buttons but I haven’t done that yet or used the metadata Painter.

So far I’m very impressed.

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I’ve made the decision to shoot RAW with my Samsung GX-10 as much as I can so I now need to sort out the best way to process these files on my PC. At the moment I’m using ImageIngester to convert the uncompressed in-camera DNG files to compressed DNG files with full size embedded JPEG previews. These are then imported into Idimager for rating, keywords and all the other DAM functions. For editing I load the DNG files into Photoshop Elements for editing with ACR 3.7. I then update the embedded preview to reflect the changes in made in ACR. Idimager uses the embedded preview so for many images I don’t need to make separate JPEG copies.

This works fine up to a point. The trouble is that ACR is partially crippled in Elements and it is a fairly slow process editing the DNG files. The full Adobe Photoshop product is out of my price range so with the release of LightRoom v1.1 I thought it’s time for another look. I’m interested in the RAW processing but also to see if it’s DAM functionality would be enough for me to use it to replace Idimager and do most of my processing in a single application.

Importing my images from their existing locations on disk went without any problem and was very quick (much quicker that Idimager imports). I’d used Idimager to write all the keywords to the images and as I expected all of these automatically showed up in LightRoom after the import. My keywords are currently flat but it will be easy to organise these into a hierarchy by dragging and dropping in LightRoom.

One thing that I know I would miss from Idimager is the image versioning which is excellent. In  LightRoom you can stack images but not if they are  in different folders. This won’t work for me as I keep my original DNGs and derived files in separate storage areas to make backup to DVD easier. However, if everything else works okay I think I will just have to live with this. It’s a shame though as Adobe Elements has managed to version across folders for a couple of releases now.

First impressions of this LightRoom release are very good, it’s fast enough on my laptop and for processing lots of RAW files quickly it’s so much easier than using ACR in Elements. I’m off now to watch some of the numerous LightRoom tutorial videos to find how to get the best out of the program.

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