I want to take a few minutes and talk about Lightroom today as I’ve been getting a lot of questions from friends and students. I teach Lightroom workshops and also incorporate Lightroom into my HDR workshops along with my own workflow. It is one of the programs that saves me a lot of time and allows me to keep my images organize in a way that I can find a photo when I need it. In order for Lightroom to be useful and work properly, you have to start out right and organize your files.
The first thing you need to decide is where and how you are going to keep your files. Is it going to be on an external hard drive, on your main hard drive or on different drives in different locations? One of the other questions that need to be answered is whether you’re going to keep your camera format or are you going to change it over to Adobe’s DAG file format. When I first started out I use my camera’s format, but have found that using Adobe’s DNG file format has made my life a lot easier, instead of having two files for each image I now have only one. This is a personal choice, and sometimes scary when you first start using it, but in the long run I think you’ll find this easier.
In order for you to get started with Lightroom the first thing you need to do is set up one folder that will hold all your images. You may have subfolders inside your main folder that separates your raw files from processed layered Photoshop files and your HDR files like I do. Having all your images in one folder also allows you to duplicate that folder onto another hard drive that can mirror your main hard drive, so when it does fail, and it will fail at some point, you have another library that is exactly as the one you’ve been using.
I start by downloading my file in the camera’s native format onto my main hard drive from the CF card. I then will open up Lightroom and have it import and convert my images to Adobes DNG file format. After importing is completed I will then delete the folder with all the old camera native format images.
The first thing after importing I do is edit images and get rid of bad or duplicated photos, and rename all my images in the job system that I have set up. I will make sure my metadata is applied with the correct copyrights and contact information. I then apply keywords and also within the keywords the clients name this way if I have to do a search in Lightroom I have different ways of finding images that I am searching for.
One of the other things you have to realize with Lightroom is if you export an image from Lightroom it will not keep track of what you do with that exported image. This is a smart thing, as you don’t want duplicate images hanging all over your hard drive. This is an area that people do get confused about, they don’t know where that image is or why they can’t find it and that is because it has been exported. If you do work inside Lightroom and have edited the photo in Photoshop, Lightroom will keep track of that image, it is only when you export it from Lightroom that you’re on your own.
Over the next few weeks I will be doing some video tutorials to better explain Lightroom and how to get around it.