File managing and backups with Lightroom? How do you do it?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by gdourado, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. gdourado macrumors 6502


    Apr 22, 2010

    How are you?
    I'm trying to start a new workflow and file management, but I'm kind of lost.
    I currently have a 27 2011 iMac. The computer is excellent and it serves well in terms of display and processing power.
    It has a 1tb internal HDD.

    I want to use Lightroom to manage and do some basic adjustments to the files, and the ones who need it, deserve it, would be edited in Photoshop, but through Lightroom.

    I shoot raw plus jpeg all the time, with results in CR2 and jpeg files from my 5D and ORF and jpeg files from my Olympus.

    Because storage is not that expensive I was thinking to store and save the CR2 and ORF and Jpegs and them use DNG in Lightroom.

    Do you use DNG? Is it a good option and worth it?

    My idea:
    - Take pictures. Copy pictures from memory card to an external HDD 1 (2.5 inch probably).
    - Use Lightroom and Import with copy to DNG option from the external HDD 1 to the internal iMac drive.
    - Use the internal iMac drive as the work drive to store the pictures and edit, manage them.
    - Have another external drive (3.5 inch), HDD 2 to do a mirror daily backup of the iMac internal drive.
    - Have an HDD 3 to do a backup of HDD 1 and store off site.
    - Have an HDD 4 to do a backup of HDD 2 and store off site.

    Am I thinking good? Is it too complicated and unnecessary?
    What's your workflow and backup with Lightroom?

    Please help me out.

    Thank you.
    Best wishes!
  2. fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    All my photos are on a dedicated external hard drive. They are backed up to another external HD.

    My Lightroom library is on a portable external, so I can easily share it between 3 computers.

    I use internal hard drives for applications.
  3. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    I think it's unnecessarily complicated.

    This is just my recommendation. It's not that you are doing it wrong, but I think it's more work for less return.
    -Shoot RAW, and don't bother with the JPGs.
    -Let Lightroom (Lr) import the images from the memory-card/camera. You can set Lr to put those images on either the internal HDD or an external. I put mine on an internal HDD that is dedicated to just photos (I have an old Mac Pro). If you have the room put your images on the internal HDD (for speed) or a FW800 connected external HDD for ample storage.
    -Have Lr convert the images to DNG on import. DNG is Adobe's RAW file format, and it's an open standard.
    -Clone the HDD with the images nightly. I use SuperDuper, but Carbon Copy Cloner is also highly rated. Or the SW of your choice. Make sure you copy both the images and the Lr catalogue file.
    -Occasionally take the external HDD and swap it for the one you are storing off-site. Set the schedule and the number of copies to suit your needs.
    -If you have Time Machine running you also have that as a backup copy.

    I assume you know that Lr can pass an image to Ps (Photoshop) for editing and are using that ability? That will the edited version in the Lr catalogue for you. Also... set up the export presets for your most common image usage. That can be a huge time saver too.

    Oh, and I am fine. Thank you asking. How are you?
  4. pakyooh macrumors 6502


    Jan 21, 2009
    I think my workflow works for me (for now atleast) and I hope this doesn't bite me in the a$$ later on. I have 3 external HDs. Temp transfers, LR Back Up and Final JPG images.

    - I only shoot raw and transfer images from the card directly to my macbook.
    Depending on the importance of the shoot/file, i either...
    - Copy raw files in my TEMP External HD for back up or
    - Edit in LR on macbook hard drive, the program responds much faster on my old Unibody macbook rather than working on files from an external HD.
    - Once done with editing the whole set, I export the catalog to my LR Back-up HD and export JPGs and save them in another HD.
  5. johnvr macrumors newbie

    Aug 19, 2010
    My workflow

    I use Photo Mechanic to import two copies of the original RAW files (CR2 files) on two external hard drives.

    Then I use LR to import DNG files on two separate external hard drives.

    The main one of those two is backed up via Time Machine and via Backblaze (an online storage provider).

    I only use the files on the main LR external hard drive. The rest remain untouched.

    The actual catalog file (including the previews) is on my internal hard drive.
  6. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Please take this in the spirit of suggesting something that may be helpful. (Sometimes it's hard to not sound sarcastic when typing....)

    Do you know that Lr can make a 2nd copy of the images as it imports from a card? So 1st copy goes to Lr folder structure and gets catalogued, 2nd copy goes to a destination of your choice - typically a backup HDD. Might save the Photo Mechanic step.

    Do you know that the images that are imported into the Lr folder structure are never actually written to? Only the database/catalogue gets written to with all the editing instructions and metadata? So, when you create a copy of the RAW image on import .... you have will now have two identical files that will stay identical even after the Lr copy has been 'edited'.

    It sounds to me - and I may be reading your post wrong... if so I apologize - that you are making 6 copies of essentially the same RAW/DNG file (and recall that all of these files are not being changed once you start editing.) However, you haven't talked about backing up the catalogue file, which is the critical piece in a workflow. I'm sure you do back it up, but it seems to me that you may be neglecting the catalogue at the expensive of making multiple copies of what is essentially the same file.

  7. arhtmac macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2011

    I found myself in your position about a month ago and came up with this solution. It's been working well for me so far. I shoot weddings mainly which average around 1200 shots each and I find that the backup workflow doesn't slow my editing down to much (because I can get on with editing while things are copying) which I guess is what everyone is aiming for, more time to shoot (or sleep!).

    ** One quick point to note is that my editing computer is a PC (for easy upgrades of HDDs mainly) so I don't have time machine but I do have an internal blu-ray for mass optical backup.

    OK, here goes:

    - Shoot to memory cards in RAW (CR2 in my case, no need for jpegs too.. Lightroom can export these if you ever need one later)
    - Import RAWs to Lightroom catalogue as CR2
    - My LR cat and previews are stored on SSD boot drive and working files on a dedicated internal 2TB HDD
    - Use LR reject flag to pick out and permanently delete the terminally misfocused shots or the odd one of my foot etc..
    - Rename the files with the event name/invoice number and a sequence (eg. Invoice0001_0001.cr2)
    - From the OS, copy these newly renamed files to an external HDD folder marked "original raw" (remember all I've done is delete the crap and rename the files) also burn these to a blu-ray disk (there are external options for your iMac for just a little more than an internal drive, I find one bluray is much easier to keep track of than 5/6 DVDs for a typical 23GB wedding!)
    - Back in LR, select the entire wedding/shoot and chose the "convert to DNG, delete original files after successful conversion" so you're left with only DNGs on the working drive

    - At this point you have 3 copies of your original RAWs (Ext HDD, Bluray and your memory cards... I don't tend to format them until this whole process is complete) and on my working drive I have the shoot in DNG format which tends to shave around 4GBs off the total size! Very handy as I like to keep my DNGs all on one drive so LR can work from one catalogue.

    - In LR you can now rate, keyword, geotag and edit to your heart's content ( I have a workflow for this too but this reply is long enough already so that's a topic for another time!)

    - Once you've completed your editing workflow, doing any trips to photoshop and back as needed it's time to back up your processed files.
    - Select all the images and select "update dng metadata and previews" option, this will make sure that all your changes are recorded in the working drive. Doing it all at the end saves writing to the files constantly during your editing which is what you'd be doing with the "automatically write changes to XMP" option enabled. Less writing to files means less chance of corruption!
    - From the OS copy all the updated DNGs to external drive (I use the same one I have the original RAWs on so I have a before and after)
    - Burn the processed files to another bluray (now have one copy of originals and processed on optical and magnetic media, and because we renamed the original RAWs before burning them too, they all have the same/correct file names in case we need to call on the original RAW for whatever reason.)
    - I also I copy the updated DNGs to a smaller HDD which lives in my camera bag and acts as my offsite backup
    - I tend to do this on Sunday/Monday after a Saturday wedding so by now I can format my cards ready for the next wedding.

    I copy my LR catalogue file and previews at the end of this to my 'offsite drive' and also to a USB key which lives in the same fireproof box as my blurays. I also have LR set to backup the catalogue from the SSD boot disk to the image working drive every time it closes.

    Once a week I have a seperate external hard drive that backs up my internal drives (ssd boot/program's disk, photo working drive and my "iTunes/documents" drive) via easeUS backup but I'm guessing you're using time machine for this particular step.

    That's what I do anyway. I'm not saying it's going to be a perfect fit for you but hope it helps. You basically end up with a copy of original RAWs on bluray and HDD, processed DNGs on bluray and the same HDD with an offsite copy for taking to clients with a copy of my LR catalogue (handy for use with my MBA at proof meetings, something you might want to keep in mind, Adobe let's you install lightroom on 2 computers just for this reason! ;) lol) and a copy on your desktop that you always have access to as well as the weekly, time machine-esque "backup of everything"

    When deciding on this I took the step of converting my whole working library to DNG as I always have the original raw lying around if I ever need it (not that I have yet!) but I also get to save space on my working drive to keep it all in one place :) sure, they say storage is cheap but it certainly isn't free and 4GB saved per wedding definitely adds up and you get the bonus in LR4 of the DNGs loading faster into the develop module if you select the "include fast load data" option :)

    Any questions give me a shout, or if you have a better solution let me know.. I'm always trying to make it more streamlined!

    PS.. Sorry this is quite a long reply!!!
  8. steviem macrumors 68020


    May 26, 2006
    New York, Baby!
    This is great!

    A couple of questions from me though:

    I'd really like to hear about your workflow when rating/keywording/editing and also, do you apply this to your personal photos or do you do something else for those? Also, would you recommend Lightroom over Aperture? I have been using Aperture, but I'm not sure anymore, it is such a resource hog for me now...
  9. arhtmac macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2011
    Thanks for that steviem :) hope it helps!

    I'm sorry but I can't really answer your lightroom/aperture question as I've only ever used PCs for this sort of thing. Just from a quick bit of reading around there are a few plus points for both it seems;

    - Aperture ties in very closely to iPhoto so if you have your personal photos stored there it seems you can jump back and forth easily;
    - Lightroom however has deep intergration with Photoshop, makes it very easily to "round trip" to PS CS6/elements for pixel-based editing
    - I'm not sure if Aperture makes use of DNG. As I said above my workflow is based all around that now so I'm comfortable with it.

    I guess the one question you'd need to ask yourself is what isn't Aperture doing for you that Lightroom could? Both seem to be similar programs. Either of these programs can become resource hogs over time so a RAM upgrade or possibly an SSD for your OS and programs may be a better spend of money, and a lot less time than learning a new program! I personally have an SSD for Win7 and my most used programs (of which Lightroom is one) and 12GB of RAM.. I'm not trying to sound flush (this build has taken over two years of buying bits here and there and sort of planning upgrades, hence AMD processor as Intel change their pins every generation it seems! lol.) but you'd be surprised at the increase in speed a good SSD will get you :)

    As far as my editing workflow goes mine is pretty specific to weddings but I'll give the outline of it:

    - Once all the original RAWs have been backed up as I mentioned earlier I import a .gpx file (GPS tracklog file) for the day's wedding. This comes from a great, and free, iPhone app called myTracks which I have running all through the wedding day. I don't tend to "autotag photos" because if you've ever used a GPS tracker before you'll probably find that it does jump around the map quite a bit if you have a weak signal even if you're just stood in one spot, in a church say, so I use it more as a reminder of everywhere I've been rather than having to find post codes of venues and such then drop the photos on the map to those locations manually.
    - LR4 makes this really easy to do with a smart collection. Use the "Without Geotag" metadata field and as you drop things on the map they'll disappear from the filmstrip leaving you with only the untagged photos (nice to see your workload getting smaller as you do it!)

    - After all the shots are geotagged I keyword them. I have 5 categories of shots for a wedding (Bridal Prep, Ceremony, Reception, Detail Shots and Bride & Groom) which every shot will be assigned to (using the grid view this is easy to assign a single keyword to a load of pics at the same time).
    - I tend to add others like 'best man,' 'bridesmaid,' 'candid,' 'B&G chosen shot' for those photos the couple specifically asked for and 'cake cutting.' Basically just trying to add as much detail as possible to track down shots and make life easier at proof meetings when the bride asks "didn't you take a shot of X with Y when they were talking to Z?!"

    - Once the keywording is done I go through the whole day and assign 1 star to my "chosen shots." These are the ones that I want to process further and think that could be album quality.
    - I make a smart collection for the wedding with two criteria; "filename includes "INVOICEXXXX"" (for their invoice number) and "image has 1 star or more"
    - From this smaller collection, I run through again and assign 2 stars to any shot I think stands out for that wedding (I always try and get at least 10 or so different shots that makes that wedding, I've had bride and grooms posed in streams with colourful wellies or kissing on the balconies of their bridal suites if it's at a hotel.. stuff like that)
    - I then edit all one star or greater images (paying particular attention to 2 star images as I want these to look their absolute best). Lightroom's lens corrections are applied to EVERY image because it's fantastic, who wouldn't want all the distortion taken out of their shot?! Tone curves are great and PV2012 makes shadow/highlight adjustments so easy to use it makes the time go by a lot faster!
    - Edit any shot that needs it in photoshop (street lights coming out of their heads, coke cans on the lawn of the venue, that type of thing that content aware fill works great for)
    - I assign a green colour label to all the shots that I've edited to completion
    - Yep, you guessed it, a smart collection with "colour label IS NOT green" is set up so I have a countdown of remaining shots to edit, helps if I take a break during!

    - Once all that editing is done I go through the 2 star images (using another smart collection, invoice number and 2 stars or greater) and give 3 stars to the 3 or 4 shots I want to keep for a "Best of 2012" style portfolio album

    - Once you're at this stage you have all your shots processed, your chosen one star pics ready for upload to the couple's online gallery with the 2 star shots given pride of place.
    - A smart collection of "capture year 2012" and "3 stars or more" set up for your best of the year shots
    - You can then save all the metadata to the files and backup as I mentioned earlier.

    I know this is very wedding specific but it can mostly be changed around by just choosing different keywords/smart collection titles :p

    I shoot my personal photos in full jpeg rather than RAW, I rarely NEED to rescue a holiday snapshot and quite like that to be honest. I don't like a few holiday snaps to start feeling like work back in lightroom. Having said that I do keep my personal shots and pro shots in the same lightroom catalogue for convenience mainly. My working image drive folder structure looks like this:

    1) arht photography images / lightroom catalogue backups

    2) Personal/Professional

    3) folders by year

    4) folders by event (birthday/italy trip) for personal/couple name for professional

    ** A quick not, I don't convert my jpegs to DNG. They're already smaller than the raw DNG files and have the same advantages of being able to contain the metadata within the files. Jpegs are also publicly documented so archiving shouldn't be a problem.

    I don't run through my personal photos with the same fine-toothed comb, but I do still stick to the same convention (so 3 stars for portfolio level work, 2 stars for stand out shots of the holiday) because it makes it simpler when it comes to sorting into smart collections. For example I have a smart collection for great family portraits set up as "keyword includes any of *all my family members names* and 2 stars or greater" so as I assign stars it starts to fill up and as and when I want to get stuff printed for frames and stuff it's easy to find. My personal photos are stored on my internal working drive and get backed up to my weekly "backup everything" drive, I don't burn disks or store on other drives apart from the portable one in my camera bag (this one is basically a mirror of my PCs working image drive).

    It's just occurred to me that you might not know what a smart collection is if all you've used is Aperture :S It's basically a virtual collection of images based on filters that you define and they update automatically so if you take the stars away say in one of my collections above then the shot disappears from the smart collection (it isn't deleted from the library though, smart collections are all virtual).

    Right, here I've gone and written another ridiculously long post, sorry! Hope it helps though steviem :)

    What's your process at the moment? Do you make much use of the "places" "faces" and "events" filters in aperture/iphoto? It's something I've been quite jealously eyeing up from the PC side of the wall!
  10. steviem macrumors 68020


    May 26, 2006
    New York, Baby!
    That's great.

    My process has been:

    -Import photos
    -Reject any really out of focus photos
    -My folder structure is year/month and then I put each day of photos in as it's own project.
    -Try to rate photos, try to look at very similar photos and rate which one is better, the one which isn't as good gets rejected.
    -Keyword 'family, friends, vacation' etc.

    Aperture has smart albums, so the first album I made, I was trying to figure out whether getting a 50mm lens would be worth it, I made 2 smart albums, one with 'focal length between 40mm and 60mm' and 'flash fired' and another without flash fired. Basically, I wanted to see how many photos I was taking that could've been helped by having a bigger aperture than the kit lens at somewhere around that length. $100 for a used Minolta 50mm lens later, and it has basically been my go to lens since.

    Faces is nice, and after a little tuning, it is very accurate when recognizing people, I have a feeling that might be what contributes to slowing things down though.

    My camera has GPS included and so far, I can't complain on it's auto tagging, it seems to be a little better about jumping to different places than you describe, so that's ok.

    I like your workflow better than mine, I didn't really understand the purpose of the flags, but that will help me. I have a lot of photos that I have imported and not really done much to them/not rated yet, so need to improve on that! I like your star system though, If I spend a few rainy afternoons on it, I should be able to get everything right though! The only problem is I don't have my own Mac anymore, I do have the hardware of my Hackintosh, but haven't used that in quite some time, perhaps I should rebuild it to be a decent editing machine.

    After seeing what you do, I'm just going to have a rethink and work out my next steps.
  11. arhtmac macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2011
    Sounds good :)

    I only really use the reject flag because there's a specific "delete rejected photos" option which does make it really quick and easy to get rid of those awful captures.

    I do wish Adobe would implement something like faces into Lightroom, but then it would only really be useful for my personal shots and as they're in the same catalogue as my pro work it could well end up confusing things! I don't think I have 1200 photos of my dad say so I'd have brides higher up the rankings than my own family! lol, looks like I've just talked myself out of it completely!

    Glad to hear that you've had better experiences with the GPS than I. Until Canon release an affordable GPS unit I'm stuck with pairing .gpx files after the fact it seems.. I did confuse myself completely for one shoot because I'd forgotten to set my camera's time forward for BST so the auto tags we're way off! lol

    Like you say, a couple of rainy afternoons and a bit of thought about what you need out of the workflow is all you'll need. Once you think you've got it sussed, write it down and then stick to it - consistency is key :) you want all your one star shots for this year to mean in your head exactly the same as the one star shots of 2016 otherwise your Lightroom/Aperture library will be wild :) it just needs to make sense to you that's all.

    Something I found really useful when I was coming up with this workflow is Julieanne Kost's videos on AdobeTV. She's one of the people who designed Lightroom so it's obviously more geared to LR than Aperture but I'm sure you could apply the same principles if you did decide to stay with Apple. My workflow is pretty much a mash up of hers and The Lightroom Queen's with a little bit of me in there too!

    Good luck with it, let me know how it turns out :)

    I find a 50mm to be great for portrait work and low light stuff, so good shout there ;)
  12. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Yes, but this is a personal preference. Some people advise using this, others say its a waste of time. I like it, because LR puts the editing instructions inside the DNG file and if I use photoshop, it applies those same instructions.
  13. Mr.Noisy macrumors 65816


    May 5, 2007
    Ive been using Aperture 3 for a while, ive already got photoshop cs4 set up, and I was wondering about getting LR4 as some of the new tools look great, only everytime i'm researching it I cant get my head round the file management system, ive had the trial and found it hard going, am I missing something? I shoot in RAW and make a copy of all RAW files before importing anything into Aperture, keeping original copies on an external raid system along with the aperture library, compared A3 seems very simple yet LR seems very confusing to me, or am i looking at this all wrong? it just seems so much more complex than A3 :confused:

    any pointers to a nice simple tutorial or explaination would be greatly appreciated.
  14. arhtmac macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2011

    As I mentioned above I've not really had much experience of Aperture so I'm not sure how it's filesystem actually works. Lightroom's filesystem is based completely on the filesystem you have organised in the OS. When you import images into Lightroom your are merely making Lightroom aware of those images on your hard drive, you are not moving them "into" lightroom. There are options on import to make second copies, convert them to DNG or move them elsewhere if you want, but the "folders" section on the left hand side of lightroom's library interface is exactly that of the OS's filesystem.

    This is different from iPhoto I know which makes you import the photos "into" the program. I don't like this because you can't ever find the individual photo by using explorer/finder. Sometimes, despite all the keywording, geotags and metadata added, it is just easier to use finder to find the wedding and copy it to USB or whatever.

    Just as a little extra explanation, if you head on over to youtube and search for "lightroom 4 importing and organizing your images" then you'll find Julieanne Kost's tutorial of how to import and organise in Lightroom 4 :) Hope that all helps.
  15. Mr.Noisy macrumors 65816


    May 5, 2007

    Thanks arhtmac, I think I understand now, found this link LR4 PDF and from my understanding I can have the LR catologue on one of my Raid systems, then when importing the RAW files direct from CF card into LR I can then make a 2nd copy at the same time to go into a new folder on the raid system, thus creating a second set of RAW files for security.

    Hopefully this works ok.
  16. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    That's not correct, the data Aperture and Lightroom both must have to process image files is the same: you need the original pictures (typically RAW files, but it could be any image format these apps can process). Those are the files (in Aperture parlance »masters«) you talk about. Aperture gives you the option to import them into a bundle (a directory that looks like a file in the Finder) or you can organize the master files yourself. Lightroom just gives you the latter options. The second part, however, is identical: both apps use a mSQL database and possibly additional files to store edits, versions, albums, etc. And your master files are never touched.

    So as a matter of fact, the lion share of your work is contained in the database. If you ever decide to switch to another app, you will have to export all the photos and then import the exported photos by hand.
    You can access iPhotos and Aperture's photos from every open/save dialog for photos.
    But then all you do is copy the masters without edits. What's the point of that? Most of the people I know can't even read the RAW files my camera produces.
  17. arhtmac macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2011
    Hi oreocookie,

    I don't quite understand in the first part of your response what is different from what I said originally. When I said on import into Lightroom you are merely making Lightroom aware of those files on your hard drive I was correct (it's almost a direct quote from one of Lightroom's engineers). I mentioned at the start I wasn't familiar with Aperture's system, that's why I didn't mention anything further on it. Your master files can be changed easily with the "update metadata" option if you're working with dng, jpeg, tiff or any other files that store metadata within them and can be changed after every single edit if "automatically write changes to XMP" is selected (although my thoughts on this option are made clear earlier in this thread). You are correct that the master files aren't ever changed if you're using proprietory RAW files, but only then. All changes are of course stored in the database, very important to keep this backed up as I mentioned earlier in the thread.

    As far as what I mentioned about finding files in the finder and then copying to USB, if you refer back to my workflow earlier in the thread you'll see that once I have finished my editing, I write all changes to my DNG files, so they ARE up to date with all changes, tags, edits, ratings and updated previews.

    Just to let you know, there are several cheap (and some free) codec options to help those people you know who can't read your RAW files.


    Hey mr.noisy,

    Yes that's exactly right, you can make that second copy and you just let Lightroom know where to put it. Just be sure to keep in mind that the file you import into Lightroom will be the one the edits are applied to. The second copy is just a copy of the original master file and isn't part of the Lightroom database, if you want to make a backup or your processed files also, either use the export function when you're done, keep a copy of your Lightroom database backed up with your second copy too or if it works for you, follow my dng workflow above :)

    As long as it makes sense to you though and you're happy with the backup redundancy you have then all is well :)

    Looks like that PDF will hold the answers to any other questions, thanks for putting the link up, I'll definitely be using that! :)
  18. Mr.Noisy macrumors 65816


    May 5, 2007
    thanks arhtmac, both Image library and RAW files are stored on a raid01 system,I import from here, then I make 2 copies onto DVD that are filed in a storage unit, this works well for Aperture, should be ok for LR4, so now to convince the wife I need LR4, ive only just convinced her I needed a blackrapid rs-7 strap,

    That Link definitely makes good reading, ive found a lot out from it, it will be bookmarked for reference, I can see i will be looking at it again, very soon.
  19. steviem macrumors 68020


    May 26, 2006
    New York, Baby!
    Well, it isn't perfect yet, but I ended up repurposing my old Hackintosh with Windows 8 for the moment.

    There were a few problems that I thought was down to it being Beta, but found that my motherboard was overclocking my poor E5400 dual core processor to 3.6GHz from 2.7GHz! Turned off the overclocking and stopped getting blue screens as soon as it started to work at 100%.

    I started copying my photos from Aperture masters, so yes, I lost ratings and edits, from my work Mac to my computer, and have the RAWs on one hard disk, then installed Lightroom 4 and started copying them as DNGs.

    It wasn't exactly a rainy afternoon, but I felt worried that having my life from the last 3 years on a work computer was kind of a risk (I did lose 2005 - 2008 original photos in a hard disk failure and was left with just Facebook photos), so I need to make sure it's all better now!

    I have all of 2009 and 2012 tagged, flagged for more developing and rated now, 2010 has been imported and 2011 is copying as we speak.

    File structure:

    F:\RAWs (where my master photos have been copied to)

    Keywords and ratings:

    As this is just personal, I have been using keywords like family, friends, vacation, car, animal, thanksgiving, birthday, Christmas and wedding. They've worked well so far, as I see other things, I'll add them.
    Ratings, I still find a little hard to gauge. First off, photos where people are looking bad, just get rejected. If they are out of focus, they get rejected. If they are photos from my nephew holding the camera and shutter down, they are rejected (unless he got something cool in there, I don't need 50 photos of my mum's sofa!) when it gets to ratings, I go with the following:
    1 Star - Facebook worthy
    2 stars - printable
    3 stars - Surprisingly good. Blog this if I ever really do a blog or blow this up onto a canvas...
    Then flagging, I have started using a couple of color flags. Red for red eye, yellow for fixing skin issues and blue for maybe photoshop to remove cables or things that don't need to be there.

    Next up:

    -Make collections for prints (I've not been good with actually getting photos printed)
    -Put jpegs or tiffs of those collections into Dropbox/Google Drive
    -Get an external drive for backing up the entire Lightroom folder (so if I change computer, I can move easily to it.
    -Maybe get Photosmith to add the files through my iPad (don't think it's really necessary though)
    -this setup will last me a month with Lightroom 4's trial. So I'll get an opportunity to see if it is worth buying. From the last couple of days, it does seem very nice to use. May look at the differences between upgrading the computer, getting a 2nd monitor or getting a Mac Mini or iMac.
  20. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    XMP sidecar files contain only metadata (which can be read by third-party software) and RAW conversion settings that can only be interpreted by a compatible version of ACR. That means unless the person you're sending the files to has the correct version of ACR, they will not be able to read the file with the correct settings.

    My main point is that also Lightroom is not completely based on the filesystem, even if you write changes to sidecar files, most of the work is contained in Lightroom catalogs (i. e. Lightroom's database(s)).
    So if you import .tiff or .jpg files to Lightroom, Lightroom will overwrite the master files? I very much doubt that, AFAIK Lightroom will only write to DNG masters. (Although please correct me if I'm wrong.)
    You're still locked into an Adobe-centric workflow (and there is nothing wrong with that), so I don't see any advantage. Although there are sometimes good reasons to relocate your masters and manage them manually, unless you insist to only use single-image manipulation software such as Photoshop (with all the downsides) and manage your files manually, you will always be locked into one application or the other. Without the database, the master files (even if you include xmp sidecar files) are of very small value. Pick your poison ;)
    I know there are several pieces of (free) software that allows you to read RAW files. If the person you're sending the files to has a recent version of OS X, they can view RAW files out-of-the-box with Preview or any other app that uses Apple's RAW engine. But the point is that you want to send a photo which has been »developed from your digital negative«, then you will always need to export the pictures via Aperture/Lightroom. Also for size considerations, sending RAW files often unfeasible.
  21. arhtmac macrumors newbie

    Jul 18, 2011
    It definitely does make for good reading, shame they don't include these things in print with software any more really! :)

    It should work well for Lightroom too, as oreocookie has pointed out if you do want to switch to Lightroom you'll be needing to push your changes from the Aperture database into the files themselves to see the changes in Lightroom in the case of jpgs/dng/tiff and so on or make sure you keep the xmp files alongside the original image in the case of raw files.

    I've been looking at those blackrapid straps too! Next payday and it's mine, lol.


    How are you finding Windows 8? I try not to use a beta OS for my workflow, I have enjoyed using them on my laptop in the past but that's long gone now so it's only my PC that runs windows at the moment. Is it fairly stable?

    No need to wait for a rainy day, I know the feeling, if it's peace of mind you're after there's no time like the present! :) Glad to know it's working for you at the moment. I'm eagerly awaiting the release of Photosmith 2 because it looks as if you'll be able to sync from LR to the iPad, sit in front of the TV and keyword during the breaks and then sync everything back to LR at your leisure over WiFi (this would be amazing!). Will see how it turns out, looking forward to incorporating this into my workflow though :)


    There's a lot to reply to here so bear with me :)

    Your point on XMP files is a little moot as I was discussing DNG/JPG/TIFF files, the "xmp sidecar" is effectively in the original file too (dng file = original raw data + EXIF info + Metadata "xmp sidecar" + jpeg preview). I wasn't talking about RAW files. You are quite right though that you would need a compatible version of ACR to read the prop. RAW file plus xmp sidecar, but that isn't what was being discussed but if I sent one of my DNG final files it would have all my changes contained within.

    Your main point about Lightroom not being based on the filesystem stems from your misreading of my discussion with Mr.Noisy, we were talking about the import process. The folder structure on the left hand side of Lightroom's library module is a mirror of the filesystem to which you have made Lightroom aware. We weren't talking at that point of writing changes to anything, only importing.

    I'm afraid I must make it more clear about the jpeg import point you raised. The original files will not be overwritten when you only import, but they will be changed if you have the "automatically write changes to xmp" option enabled, or push the changes manually once you start editing which is what we were talking about. They will be changed because, just like DNG, jpegs store the xmp data within the file itself. So that means Lightroom will write to dng masters, jpeg masters or tiff masters if you tell it to do so. The only original data that cannot ever be changed by lightroom is proprietary raw files, hence the sidecar workaround.

    When you mention that my master files are of very small value you're not taking into account that once I have finished my edits I update all the dngs. The masters lightroom relates to are now my finished files. This means I can find them through the OS and click on it to bring it up in windows picture viewer and what I see is my edited version. Not tied into the database. While making this decision for my workflow I did not want to be tied to lightroom. It means that years down the line, because I save my changes from lightroom into the files themselves, I can change programs if I want to because dng is an open standard and they'll have all my changes stored inside. I'm very happy with lightroom though, it's clean and easy to use so I'm happy but it's good to be prepared.

    Just to finish off on your last point with an example. I also freelance as a wedding photographer for a fellow photographer if he already has a wedding booked in but I'm free. I'll shoot the wedding, follow my own import process to convert to DNG, tag, geotag and keyword then push these changes to the DNGs. I will then use the OS to just drag and drop them to an external HDD to give to him for the album edit. So you see I have just exported those images without using lightroom.. there is a use for it. Database programs like LR and Aperture are great for speed and batch processing because they reference files and use small previews, this is the main benefit to me. But I like to be able to use the OS and still see my changes :)

    As I've said from the start of this thread though, it's what suits your needs that matters. This works for me though at the moment :)
  22. OreoCookie, May 13, 2012
    Last edited: May 13, 2012

    OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    Thanks a lot for your response, you bring up interesting points. :)
    How do you handle multiple versions of one file in that workflow?
    For instance, I often have at least two versions of a photo, e. g. one for regular use and one for print (optimized for a specific profile) or a color and a black & white version.
    I put a lot of work into books (just finished a ~90 page wedding book), for instance (one reason I didn't even seriously consider Lightroom until version 4). The only way to extract a book is as a pdf (which is in a sense read-only). I use stacks and albums extensively to sort and organize my photos. All these information cannot be captured in the metadata.
    If I may ask: why does that worry you? I know that if I bite the bullet and migrate away from Aperture, I'll spend a day to transfer my files and my hierarchy to whatever I'll be using then. But at that point, I presumably will still have a working copy of Aperture and transferring the files is not a problem.

    I had to go through this ordeal once before when I switched from iView Media Pro to Aperture. I lost all tags, albums and whatnot. Fortunately, Aperture's database has been rock solid, unlike iViews which corrupted itself after a while.
  23. Mr.Noisy macrumors 65816


    May 5, 2007
    @ arhtmac BlackRapid RS-7 is the best investment in a strap ive ever made, much more comfortable than the Crumpler Industry disgrace in my view.
    Just need to order the FastenR-T1 TRIPOD screw so I can attach my Manfrotto RC plate for my monopod, next payday just buy it ;)
  24. steviem macrumors 68020


    May 26, 2006
    New York, Baby!
    Once I solved my hardware issues, it has been running pretty well. I'm not really a Windows fan, but I needed to get an OS to run the Lightroom 4 trial without pirating, So this was pretty much my only option.

    Lightroom seems really nice, actually and not as jerky as Aperture, despite being on older hardware (yet with more RAM). If I can pick up a Mac Mini from work, I might go for that though. Not sure yet.
  25. trs0722 macrumors member

    Oct 29, 2011
    Newark, DE
    Been following this post too...thanks for the help. So, it appears that LR4 saves my originals only to my pictures folder upon import. However, it is up to us to save a new copy of the pics we edit by exporting them someplace. I assume that the XMP sidecar files are saved based on the originals only but are updated when you make edits to your pics?

    It's tempting to back up original (unedited) RAWs to DVD. This would be much easier b/c they are already automatically saved in my pictures folder on my hard drive. But I think I'm leaning on saving just the edited pictures as JPGs to DVD in the interest of saving disc space. However, this requires the extra step of exporting to another folder and then saving.

    Just making sure I have most of this correct b/c I'm now at the point of using LR4 fully over iPhoto. At least with iPhoto I could easily back up a few months of edited pictures to even displayed a bar to tell me how much space the pics would take up. I can't seem to find that feature when I save to DVD in LR4. Can anyone comment/help with this?

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