Photo management in Lightroom

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by kaelell, Dec 18, 2012.

  1. kaelell macrumors 6502

    Nov 16, 2009
    Evening Folks,

    just had a question for those who have used Lightroom ( apologies for posting this in iMac section, but just seems more traffic here considering the recent release)

    some background
    I am waiting for my new Mac still and don't have a machine to test some of the questions I had, want to set it up right from the start and get it right in my head.

    Previously a somewhat inefficient set up I had/have was I used Lightroom to edit my raw images then export the selected few final's and copy into iPhoto and use iPhoto to manage the library. I would then move the larger raw files from my lightroom folder to a separate 2TB FW drive for archiving.
    in iPhoto I used, iPhoto buddy to load separate libraries.

    My reason for doing it like this was a) keep only smaller files on my hard disk and move the raw's to the archive external drive. b) using iphoto buddy to split library's meant it was faster to load and better presentable.

    A major problem I have with this is that I want to introduce a NAS drive into my set up, and I want to have access to my photos anywhere regradless of device im using, whether its a windows laptop, iPhone or iPad. the way iPhoto manages the library, if that gets backed up to the NAS then I dont think I will have that ease of access that a simple folder structure would give?

    I want to change this and hopefully use only Lightroom to manage my library, I believe that uses a simpler, accessible folder structure ? If that is the case, how does Lightroom manage edited photos, do you need to Export and add to the lightroom library again? would that mean a separate folder created for edited images in addition to the existing RAWs? would It be a situation where I can easily move the RAW images to an archive when done and the edited images automatically backed up to the NAS, leaving just edited library in Lightroom.

    I hope that all makes sense and I am not overthinking it, perhap's you'll tell me I have it all wrong and I should do it like xxxx

    ultimately what I want is
    a) Manage my desktop space & not have all my Raw's stored there, only my edited finals
    b) Not have a dozen steps in copying back & forth to manage photos
    c) Have an automatic process where my photo library is backed up the NAS and is easily accessible via any machine/OS
    d) Still have the Raw files somewhere in case I need it


    mm thanks admin for moving my post, however Im pretty sure I would of gotten more success had you of left it, considering many of the currently active users in that section I know are also prominent Lightroom users.
  2. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    It sounds like a lot of work for very little gain. I personally think it is a mistake to split your database like you are suggesting.

    I shoot in RAW+JPEG and import them as a bonded pair into Aperture 3. Of course it takes a lot of space... but storage is so cheap that I just do not worry about it... especially on an iMac. I also use my MBA for photography... but I transfer simply transfer A3 projects back an forth between the two machines.

    Personally... I would not recommend iPhoto at all. It is OK for a small photo collection... but I find that it gets clumsy as your library grows. I would do everything inside of Lightroom... or Aperture. They are both spectacular programs. Why try to circumvent what they do best by introducing iPhoto into the mix?

    Both LR4 and A3 support keeping your photos on multiple drives. Utilize it.

  3. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Your over thinking it, imo.

    First... you need to know how Lr works. I'm going to start with the basics, in case there are some gaps in your understanding of Lr.

    When you import you import your RAW files you can either move them into the Lr folder structure, or leave them where they are. More importantly, during the import Lr creates database entry in the Lr catalogue. When you edit an image in Lr, it doesn't create a new image, Lr merely records the edits in the database. This leaves the RAW files untouched. And saves space since it doesn't have to make a new image for each version you create. The edited version is not created until you "Export".

    Note that this means that there is a folder structure with the RAW files, and a catalogue file (the database). These are two critical elements. There is also a Previews file, iirc - but these can be recreated so it's not a critical element. If you move the RAW files outside of Lr, then the catalogue loses track of the images and you have to tell the Lr where to find the images before you can work on them again.

    There may be some restrictions on using Lr over a network - check their website - but in theory there is nothing preventing you from putting the catalogues and RAW files on the NAS, and accessing it across the network from the local installation of Lr. Note that Lr is only supposed to be installed twice (for most licenses)... so that gives you a Windows license and a Mac license. I think there is a free app for iDevices. I don't know if you can place the Previews file locally... check with Adobe on that one. That will speed up things a lot if you can.

    My suggestion is to avoid passing images from Lr to iPhoto. They are both Digital Asset Managers, and you run the risk of corrupting the databases badly.

    Lr can make a backup copy of the RAW images, during an import, to an alternate location. Once it's set it will continue until you unselect it. This is by far the easiest way to back up your RAW files. Personally, I don't bother with that backup. I have a nightly backup of my RAW files and the catalogue. I use Time Machine for same day user errors, and I don't format my memory cards until I've confirmed the nightly backup has run.

    I find Lr has far far better tools for organizing images than iPhoto. I only keep iPhoto around for access to Apple Books, and because I still tutor iPhoto on occasion.

    Hope this helps.
  4. kaelell thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 16, 2009
    thanks for your detailed reply, for the most part thats actualy how I understood it to work and where I also have a problem. What I wanted, was access to my edited "finals" library via a NAS wherever I was, whatever device i was on and not having to use LR to do it.
    The way I understand LR to work is that I wouldnt get that because its non destructive and that editing information would be in some file somewhere only readable by lightroom? ( you mentioned some preview files, but I guess these will be of low quality) So would that mean, I would be exporting the photos after editing and then adding to the Lightroom library again ( effectively having 2 albums, 1 of the RAW's , 1 of the finals?).

    Typically, how do you work, what is your workflow once you have made your final touches? its that part of the work flow I have trouble understanding.
    I am ok with loosing the informaition on what I have edited as long as I have a backup of the Raw in case I need to re-edit a photo from scratch.
  5. lexvo macrumors 65816

    Nov 11, 2009
    The Netherlands
    Exporting just means that a copy of the final is stored elsewhere (in JPG, TIFF or something else). If you want to do more edits, just continue with the image in Lr and export again.

    I myself keep and edit all my photos in Lr and export them for web or to my NAS so they can be viewed from everywhere and every computer (including iPhone, iPad and TV) I want.
  6. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I own LR4 and A3. I personally have settled in on A3 for my workflow... which I will lay out just in case you are interested in switching. Both LR4 and A3 are great programs. Obviously LR4 wins if you need to be multi-platform (PC+Mac). I have moved to Mac only... and I have a fairly strong preference for A3... but both have their strong and weak points.

    As stated... I always shoot in RAW+JPEG, and I import them into an A3 project as "RAW+JPEG (JPEG as Original). I do that because for "most" photos... I am satisfied with the in camera processing... at least for a start.

    Then I reject, rate, stack, stack-pic, ect. If my camera in use does not have a built in GPS (most of mine do not)... then I assign a location to the entire project. Then for some rating threshold (usually 4* and above) I will perform basic edits such as cropping, straightening, etc.

    Then... for any advanced editing of certain photos... I will "switch" from "JPEG as original" to "Raw as original" if I think I will benefit from using RAW for those particular photos. I will then use more advanced photo editing, often using A3 good controls... or Nik Software plug-ins (available for A3, LR and PS). Very rarely (well under 1%) I'll go into photoshop..

    Now that everything is done (It is amazingly fast once you learn A3). I can create smart albums (based on ratings, locations, keywords, etc) to my hearts content. In A3, these albums take essentially "zero" space, and can be shared, exported, etc. I share them with my iPad, iPhone, etc... and I also share them on the home network so that they can all be viewed on any TV in the house using Apple TV. I also use these smart albums to

    My entire A3 library is double backed up (locally via TM, Cloud via Crashplan+). Just because I am paranoid... I also manually create "Aperture Vaults" on a rotating set of HDDs... one of which is ALWAYS locked in my office at work. This further protects me just in case my house burns down the same day that CP+ datacenter melts down.

    The key thing that my workflow does not do for you (if I understand correctly), is to support you having access to 100% of your library via your NAS. Honestly... I cannot imagine why I would want to do that. I publish maybe 5% of my photos in smart albums... and that is all that I would normally want to show or view. There is nothing that would prevent me from exporting all my final work (including all projects) to my NAS... but that seems very counter intuitive. Why do I want my junk? Actually... I do have access to everything everywhere... if I wanted to download from Crashplan. I have also used "logmein" to remote control into my home iMac (on 24/7) from remote locations... and export photos into dropbox... which instantly syncs to my MacBook Air which I always have with me when traveling. That gives me remote access to anything that I need... even in an emergency.

    One final thing... at least with A3... you have very powerful tools to transfer projects between machines so that you can work on them while remote. I will often transfer a project that is under development to my MacBook Air during a trip. I can work on it on the plane... or at my destination. When I return home, I will merge that back into my main A3 library and all my work is merged back in. Very powerful. I also create new projects while traveling... and migrate them to my iMac once I am back home.

    I am much less comfortable the way LR4 operates. I bought for a discount at the same time i purchased Adobe CS6. I have played with it a bit, but I did not like it compared to A3... especlially because of the OSX integration available in A3... plus its free flow methodology. Others feel the exact opposite of me. From what I understand... they are probably a toss-up... each having slight advantages over the other... but basically on par.

  7. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Good to hear....
    Just to confirm, I don't believe Lr is set up to work like that. As you've noted, there is no "finals" library that Lr creates... it creates the images as needed. Though... you could simply set up a "Finals" export preset in Lr, and export to a folder structure on the NAS. The downside is that any edits you make in Lr won't be synched to this Finals Folder until you export again, and any edits you make to an image in the Finals Folder won't be carried over to Lr.
    They can set the quality to different levels. I've never really played with these so I don't know how good they are. Also, they are not in an easily navigated format. Lightroom expects to be the exclusive user, I believe.
    I think the big difference is that I use one system for 98% of my Lr work. Within that work I have two main uses. 1) For my commercial photography work I import the RAW files (I've never understood the benefit of RAW + JPG. Not saying there isn't any... I've just never understood the benefit of storing a full version of an image and a low quality version side by side). I work on the images, and do whatever. I export the "Finals" to a CD to give to the client, typically. I will also often export for web use and send these off to the clients web master (saves the client time, and I can do it very easily). These images I delete after the web master has received them. For Commercial work, I don't keep a Finals library. I just recreate them in Lr as needed. Saves time and storage space. My Finals are all in the hands of the clients.

    For my art work, I have two streams. One stream is heavily photoshopped (photo collage). I do keep these final images in a folder structure outside of Lr. Though, if I think about, I also sometimes import the final piece into Lr so that I can do all the resizing there instead of keeping 6 different files of different sizes. The second art stream are not photoshopped, typically. These I sometimes export to a project folder where I keep the supporting documentation (bios, artist statements, etc). But - if I need to work with the image - to resize for printed material, for e.g., I work with the image in Lr.

    If I need to work with images on my laptop, I will select the images I want to work with in Lr, and create a new Lr catalogue containing those images. When I am done, I will merge that catalogue back into the main catalogue. You can also create a new empty catalogue and import into that catalogue while travelling, and then merge that catalogue into your main Lr catalogue.

    flynz4 also makes some good points, though I personally disagree with the RAW+JPG bit. But this workflow flexibility is good feature.... different strokes for different folks.


    I do all of my image organization inside Lr. I don't care where Lr parks the images, and I don't want to know.... other than making sure my back up captures them. Plus the catalogue. I really like the way I can organize my images inside Lr.

  8. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    Like you, I could never understand the benefits of RAW+JPEG. Then I read some advice (by Robert Boyer) which made sense for me. Aperture lets you import RAW+JPEG originals as a permanently bound files. At the time of import, you can also choose which of the two is the "working original" (my term). At any point in the workflow, you can switch from JPEG to RAW or vice versa.

    I think the in-camera JPEG processing is pretty good... and for a first pass through... I think it gives a better interpretation over unprocessed RAW. You can do much more with RAW... but it takes work. In other words... I think the in camera JPEG processing is better than "automatic and un-tweeked" in-computer RAW processing.

    So... by importing both... I can do the first level of work with JPEGs... and only switch to RAW for those that I want to perform additional processing, editing, NIK filters, Photoshop, etc.

    It works for me. The storage delta is minimal. 30MB for JPEG+RAW... and 25MB for RAW only. I'm willing to burn the space for the quick and easy up front editing.

  9. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Fair enough. I've moved to a camera which doesn't give me that option... RAW only. So for me it no longer is even option.

    Have you thought about setting up an import preset that does a 1st run pass over the RAW images on import that is similar to the in camera JPG processing? That way you could work with just the RAW images, but still get auto-tweak that the in camera processing provided? Just a thought...
  10. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I have purchased import presets, and tweeked my own. I just haven't found anything that is as good across a number of shooting styles and subjects as the in-camera JPEG processing. BTW: I am a Nikon user if that matters.

    Once I have the images in A3... it is trivial to switch between JPEG and RAW masters. Of course... using RAW for any substantial editing is pretty much always preferred.

  11. kaelell thread starter macrumors 6502

    Nov 16, 2009
    An Old thread I created, but I have since then set up my new iMac and played around with Lightroom & iPhoto and got it in a place which answers all the original questions I had. For the benefit of future readers who might stumble across this post and are new to Lightroom the main function which I found really usefull was the "Export as Entire Catalogue"

    It means whilst I work with my Raw files, it is my preference that when done ,to then Export these as an entire catalogue to my Archive External Drive and remove from my main Catagloue. That maintains all edit information, but does not appear in your main Catalogue as that is reserved for exported Finals.

    Also because theres a few functions of iPhoto I still like to use ( such as the photobook/iphone syncing) I discovered you can still add the photos to iPhoto without having the software copy, move or alter them from original location.

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