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iPhoto for organization, Lightroom for editing - will they work together?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by DiegoFrancisco, Oct 6, 2012.

  1. macrumors member

    Hi all, I did a search for this and only found one thread from 5 years ago. Figure this is worth a new one, sorry if I've missed something.

    I've been using iPhoto for a while now and have my photos all very nicely organized and do NOT want to start over on it. Trouble is, I've been using the LR demo for a few weeks now and really prefer it to Aperture.

    Does anyone have experience using iPhoto for organizing their photos and using Lightroom for editing? Every way I've tried so far has been pretty wonky, so I'm curious if anyone else has had much luck with it.

  2. macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    In iPhoto Preferences, you should be able to select Lightroom as an External Editor. Right-click an image in iPhoto and select External Editor and you should be able to edit in Lightroom and store in iPhoto. I'm just guessing here, but I have done this with PhotoShop and iPhoto before I moved to Aperture.

  3. macrumors member

    LR imports the file, which means you have to import it back in iPhoto and delete the previous version. Such a PITA. Do you remember how you did it with PS?

  4. macrumors demi-god


    In iPhoto preferences under advanced you will find the option of which program you want to use for editing. Just click on it and choose LR, then close. Should then just have to click on image/then Use External Editor which will then open LR. This is how I do it with PS and iPhoto. It works great.
  5. macrumors 603

    As others have said, technically you may/should be able to add Lr as an external editor.

    However, I don't think it's a good idea. Lr is not really set up to "open" images - it needs to import them before it can work on an image. This is because both iPhoto and LR are 'Digital Asset Managers' (DAM). They were both designed to primarily organize your images. Plus they have editing tools.

    In both cases, iPhoto and Lr 'import' images - they don't 'open' them. They can be set to leave the original images in place, or to move or copy them into their respective library or catalogue. In both cases the act of 'importing' means that a database entry is created in the library/catalogue. From that point on, all of the edits you make are simply recorded as entries in library/catalogue.... the original (master) image is never altered. It is only when you 'export' an image that the edited version of the image is actually created.

    By the same token, both of these DAMs don't 'save' files. To get the edited version of an image you have to 'export' the image, which then creates a new version of the image. Now you have the original (master) image tucked away in the library or catalogue, and the edited version saved to a location of your choice.

    When iPhoto passes an image to an editing application, that application will 'open' the image. You make your edits. The application then 'saves' the image, and passes the new 'saved' image to iPhoto which puts it somewhere (depending - but it will likely either be next to the original (master) image or in a special 'edited images' folder structure.

    Since Lr doesn't 'Open' or 'Save' images, but rather 'imports' and 'exports', I have no idea how this would work. Except that you risk corrupting the databases (of both applications).

    If you like Lr that much (and I can see why, I use it daily) my suggestion is to simply move your iPhoto images over to Lr. Do it Album by album to maintain your existing organizational structure. Any new images you should just drop directly in Lr.

    You will lose facial recognition, unfortunately. But I thin Lr can match iPhoto for pretty much everything else, plus it has lots of features that iPhoto doesn't have. One thing that iPhoto (& Aperture) have that I prefer is a better selection of bookmaking tools. But I keep Aperture/iPhoto around for just that task. I will make all of my selections and do my editing in Lr, and then export the images to a temporary folder that I import into iPhoto/Aperture to create the book.

    Good Luck.
  6. macrumors member

    Thanks so much for the detailed response :)

    That's what I was afraid of - I've been trying to find a workaround with no luck so far. I have 11,000 photos arranged in 195 events, I love the layout, and the thought of reorganizing it all in a new system makes me nauseous.

    So it looks like you really can't have it both ways. :| If anyone knows of a workaround, let me know - thanks!
  7. macrumors member


    I agree. Also, much cataloguing information that is done in iPhoto should (have the possibility of being) be saved to the actual images. In LR you can select to write the metadata to the files directly. It's bound to get very messy in time if try to combine them both.

    Also, have a lookaround if there's some plugins or anything that can help with the transition.

    BTW, Aperture support iPhoto databases natively and has much of the power LR has.
  8. macrumors 6502

    Aperture is great you should just use it instead of iPhoto. It's fantastic for bulk processing I couldn't work without it.
  9. macrumors member

    Yeah, still deciding between LR and Aperture. Since I don't want to start over organizing everything, I'll probably get Aperture and the Topaz DeNoise plugin. Still cheaper than LR, and includes great NR.
  10. macrumors 603

    OK, not trying to talk you into this.... but just so that you have all the info. I just tried this, and it works for me.

    You just need to open the Event, select all (keyboard shortcut), drag the photos to the Lr icon and drop. Lr will launch/open/come to the front and will then ask you about keywords, where to put them, whether to move, copy, copy as dng, etc. etc. If you go by Event by Event, you can add a keyword for the event, plus other keywords that are common to all the images. When the import is done, all the images will be the "Previous Import" folder in Lr.

    Do a Select All on the Previous Import, then create a Collection (same as an Album in iPhoto). The dialogue will ask you, among other things, if you want to put the selected images into the new collection. Doing it in this order saves a step. There is also a keyboard shortcut, iirc, for 'Create New Collection'.

    That is one Event done. Takes a few minutes to perhaps 10 or so ... depending on a few factors. This may work for you. If you can do 6 an hour that's only about 32 hours. Unless you have extensive keywording to recreate. Though, just off the top of my head, I believe you can export keywords from iPhoto that Lr can then add.

    Anyway... not trying to talk to you into anything, but also wanted to make sure you had the full picture... :D
  11. macrumors member

    Yep, and I much prefer the organization and look of Aperture. I think I'm just going to go with Aperture and add DeNoise and an HDR plugin.

    Cheers, thanks for all the solid advice
  12. macrumors 603

    Good - glad it all worked out.
  13. macrumors 68000


    I moved from iPhoto when Lightroom 3 Beta came out. It was an easy transition. First all of my iPhoto pics are backed to a DVDr and external drive. I just deleted what I wasn't using in iPhoto and started fresh in LR. Since LR doesn't have a backup photo feature.

    Every photo shoot I open Finder, locate my RAW files, drag to external drive. Label them the same as I have them in LR - Year - Event - Type. ex. 2012 - Concert - Stevie Wonder

    Iphoto I use for creating photo books. If you prefer using iPhoto for books, you can create your pages in LR, save them as a PDF, then import into iPhoto.
  14. macrumors 603

    Next time you do an import, you can set Lr to make a 2nd copy of the RAW files to a secondary location. It's near the top of the right-hand panel, iirc. I don't know if it will name the folders the way want.... but it may be easier to then just back and rename the folder than to copy the RAW files.
  15. macrumors 68000


    ahh sorry I don't really "make copies". I back them up to the external drive.. which is basically copying to disc. sorry for the confusion. But I will try that tip out too.
  16. macrumors 6502a


    I think choosing this method will, in the long run, be a bigger hassle than spending a free day migrating your library. You are going to run into a lot of issues with your RAW files and duplicates with destructive edits. Over time, you will probably gradually transition to using LR as an organizational tool as well when so many of your photos have been imported for editing purposes. Eventually you are going to want to go back and work on your photos again without having to edit all over again. Also, having both programs open all the time will make your computer run really really slow. Both of these programs use a lot of RAM.

    Heres the BIGGEST problem. iPhoto will export your photos to your external editor as JPGs, essentially rendering most of Lightroom's editing tools useless. Spend the extra effort now to migrate your library, you'll be glad you did later. I recently switched from Aperture to Lightroom and I am so glad that I don't have to open aperture AND go into the library folder to get my RAW files every time I want to edit something.

    Another thing to consider, Lightroom is also a MUCH better organization system than iPhoto and has many many more options for rating your photos, viewing by metadata attributes, etc.
  17. macrumors 6502a


    love aperture and iphoto integration.
  18. macrumors member

    I was in the same boat as you although I only had about one year's worth of pics in iPhoto (mostly JPGs) and have not tried to move all of them back over to LR to be edited. After all, iPhoto does fine with JPG's....LR4 much better for RAW's.

    So, not sure if this will help or not but if you decide to switch to LR to edit and iPhoto to view from this point on, then here's what I did...maybe it will help:

    Step 1: Import new photos (RAW) to LR4 and iPhoto at the same time. (I only import them to iPhoto so that I can delete them all after import as I don't save them on my memory card).

    Step 2: Edit the RAW keepers in LR4.

    Step 3: Using a saved preset, I export all of the edited RAW files as a JPG back to iPhoto. The setting results in smaller files with quality at 93 and resolution to closely match my monitor (1920 x 1200). They look great.

    Step 4: Delete the RAW from iPhoto so there are no duplicates.
  19. macrumors 68000

    I can save you a step or two. Don't bother importing the RAW files to iPhoto just so you can delete them. Ideally you should format the card with your camera after importing the files. I've been told this is the safest way to clean a card. Deleting individual files is more likely to cause card corruption. It may not matter as much with recent cards, but it will still be a quicker workflow for you to do it that way. This also assumes you want to completely clean the card each time.
  20. macrumors 603

    I always format my cards in my camera - I've had a couple of issues when I didn't do that, and none since I started formatting in the camera. I try to remember to format them as soon as I put a new one in. However, I put memory cards aside for a couple days after importing from the card. This assures that my Time Machine and nightly backups have made copies of the images before I delete them off the card. When something happens to my photo HDD I will only lose whatever edits I've done that day.
  21. macrumors 68020


    Just use Aperture.
    The storage structure is more or less identical to that of iPhoto. In fact, it's more similar to a conventional file browser than Lightroom's management system, which is strictly date-only.
    Aperture has the editing abilities that you want, and its processing engine is no slouch either.

    Trying to marry iPhoto and Lightroom is fundamentally difficult because both have separate file management systems, and both serve the same purpose: to manage photos. Trying to use two management programs, one for edits and one for actual management, is bound to be wonky.
  22. macrumors 601


    I just use iPhoto for the final output and for syncing to iDevices. LR is far superior in organizing.
  23. macrumors 603

    With respect, that is not true. Lightroom, by default, wants to file by date. But you can create and use whatever folder you want. One recommended workflow is to allow Lr to file by date, and then create Collections that are roughly significant to an old-fashioned "file by folder" system. Lightroom's Collections are the same thing as iPhoto's/Aperture's Albums.
    I agree, using both will lead to problems inevitably.
  24. macrumors 68000

    I recently formatted a card in camera, and then remembered afterwards that I hadn't pulled all the pictures off of it first. I had some of them, but not all. I could have retaken the lost pictures, but I was able to use a recovery tool to read them off since I hadn't used the card for anything else yet. It took something like 4 days to get all the images off, but I was able to recover the ones I needed. I don't recommend doing this often... :)
  25. macrumors 603

    Glad it worked out for you, in the end. I have a specific spot I put my cards when I take them out of the camera. Cards in that spot do not go anywhere, except into the card reader. When they come out, they go into another specific spot for at least a day (one backup cycle) before I put them back into rotation. It a rigid workflow, and so far (knock wood) I haven't lost any images through accidental deletion. At least not that I know of.

    The one part of the workflow I sometimes forget is to format the card at all. I don't tend to fill my cards up... I download the images at the end of the session or day. So what happens is that when I go to import the next session's images I have to make sure the "Don't import suspected duplicates" is checked.

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