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Culling before LR, versus culling inside LR

hotsnacks

New Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2019
Messages
2
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic 7
Lightroom Version
7.0.1
Operating System
macOS 10.14 Mojave
After a few years away, I'm back to photography and starting fresh. I have 3 years of photos from travels that have been sitting and a fresh installation of LR 7.0.1. Forget prior catalogues and photos for now.

I always worry about LR getting slow over time. Stories of catalogs getting huge and dismal performance. I've read probably a hundred articles blogs about all the settings (with some horrible advice).

I found a lot of people who propose using Fast Raw Viewer to cull first, rather than LR which writes code, creates thumbs, previews for every photo even during culling.

However, if I use LR to cull (let's say 50/50 rejects and keepers) and then remove rejects from LR (not from disk), wouldn't that help keep the catalog in check? I imagine LR deletes previews and all information for photos I've removed from my catalog right? I want to prevent this from as much bloat as possible while still being useful.
 

Kirby Krieger

Active Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2017
Messages
132
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic 8
IME, you have nothing to worry about. Lightroom is designed for grouping your Photos myriad ways. Culling a set of photos usually involves grouping them in ways that are meaningful, and eventually removing a portion from the set. Culling even a lifetime's worth of photos is a perfect use of Lightroom. This is Lightroom's wheelhouse. Have at it.

Any large import will take time to process (including making Previews). Import, let Lightroom work overnight, close it and re-open it in the morning.
I have some gargantuan Catalogs (more than a million images, TB's of data). I have yet to see Lightroom choke — if you are running Mojave with more than minimum system requirements, you should be fine.

Strongly suggest backing up your Catalog after every Lightroom session, and having Lightroom test integrity before backing up and optimize Catalog after backing up (these two are effected by check-boxes in the Back Up Catalog dialog).
 

I-See-Light

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2013
Messages
1,086
Location
Queensland
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic 8
Cull "Before" Lightroom using other software you might throw this image to the trash-
12240


Cull in Lightroom and you might decide that after some editing it is worth keeping. (Not that this example is a great pic :) )
12241
 

Zenon

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 13, 2017
Messages
1,094
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
Classic 8
I use Canon's DPP to delete unwanted or unusable files before importing. Quick Check - Full Screen. DPP's downsizing algorithm for 'fit to screen' display is very good - contrasty which creates the illusion of sharpness. Files look like a final Jpeg.
 

Tony Jay

Senior Member
Staff member
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Lightroom Guru
Joined
Jun 8, 2012
Messages
2,433
Location
Brisbane, Australia
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Let's start at the end of your post first: When an image is deleted from Lightroom then everything goes, previews, metadata, and the pointer to the image's location wherever it is. So, in this respect there is never any accumulative "bloat" when culling images from within Lightroom.

The size of the image collection is much less of an issue than you would imagine - many people have image collections approaching a million with Lightroom still working well. Unless your computer is hopelessly underspecified you should be fine...

In your situation (from what I understand of course) there is no real advantage to using some other software package to cull images. I have friends who shoot current affairs and sports where these packages are very helpful in quickly selecting and firing off images to an editor or agency, often within minutes of them being shot. Your images have been sitting on hard drives for three years already!

I would also not be too hasty to delete images.... Instead, import them all and start to rate them. You may just want to to designate poor images as rejects along with a star for the odd image that stands out as a really good one. Do not delete any image that is not a complete fail (you shot an image with the lens cap on, or one that is just so totally out of focus that its subject matter is not discernible - that is a complete fail) otherwise if you really don't like an image just mark it as a reject and move on.

Once images are imported shut your computer down and wait a week and then reopen Lightroom and go through the images again.... You will be amazed at how different your take is on a lot of images. (In this respect some images that I initially marked for deletion have ended up as portfolio images! Perhaps you can criticise my judgement at some point or other but the key point is that that image was never lost as a result of the poor judgement...) Over time, weeks and months, what really are the best and the worst images will begin to crystallise and these can be be treated appropriately. Generally, it will take me a year or more before I am entirely satisfied that I have identified the best and the worst. You may think that I have a catalog full of crap images that I am reluctant to delete. That is not so! After a year or so I will only have 5-10% of the initial images left - all the others have had their throats cut! So, in the final analysis I advocate a very ruthless approach to culling images, just not a hasty one! One of the main reasons I do this is to try and improve my photography by allowing only the very best images to survive. However, I do take care not to needlessly delete an image early that, for any number of reasons, never caught my eye, when later on it is clear that it is gold!

Ultimately, unless a very rapid turnaround of images is required for urgent publication I would stick to using Lightroom for culling images.

Tony Jay
 

hotsnacks

New Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2019
Messages
2
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic 7
Thank you all! Your replies have been a relief, and your insights have been very helpful. My paranoia has been alleviated!

And I now also know that I can have LR automatically delete 1:1 previews after 1 month, so I will be doing generating 1:1 for all imported photos. It feels so luxurious!

Now wish me luck as I begin my journey, keywords in hand! Thank you again.
 

Dan Marchant

Active Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2017
Messages
171
Lightroom Experience
Advanced
Lightroom Version
Just a heads up. It is entirely possible to cull with Lightroom BEFORE importing images to Lightroom.

As others have said there are no problems caused by Importing then deleting.... though you are in effect wasting time importing images and building previews for images you will delete. You can save this time by using LR to cull BEFORE you import.
  • Insert card into card reader and press the Import button.
  • on the Import dialogue screen select the source (your card) and the screen will populate with the thumbnails of the images on the card.
  • select/click on the first thumbnail and press E (Loupe View) - you now have an enlarged view of the image.
  • use left/right arrow keys to scroll through images. Use X to deselect any obviously bad images*
  • After first pass press Import and the remaining selected images will be imported and previews built.
* I use this system to do a first pass cull. I shoot a lot of sports so have a lot of images that are similar (bursts) and some missed focus/fails. This is a quick way to cull these obviously bad images.

I don't use this to do creative culling - deleting images that are technically ok but creatively meh. I usually do that after having the images on my drive for a week and living with them as you will sometimes see an image worth keeping that you didn't notice before.
 

PhilBurton

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2015
Messages
1,582
Location
California, USA
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic 8
After a few years away, I'm back to photography and starting fresh. I have 3 years of photos from travels that have been sitting and a fresh installation of LR 7.0.1. Forget prior catalogues and photos for now.

I always worry about LR getting slow over time. Stories of catalogs getting huge and dismal performance. I've read probably a hundred articles blogs about all the settings (with some horrible advice).

I found a lot of people who propose using Fast Raw Viewer to cull first, rather than LR which writes code, creates thumbs, previews for every photo even during culling.

However, if I use LR to cull (let's say 50/50 rejects and keepers) and then remove rejects from LR (not from disk), wouldn't that help keep the catalog in check? I imagine LR deletes previews and all information for photos I've removed from my catalog right? I want to prevent this from as much bloat as possible while still being useful.
I wanted to like Fast RAW Viewer so I could cull the obvious rejects and do star ratings quickly but in practice I find the FRV interface clunky and hard to use, so for me at least, I don't save time by using FRV instead of LR. Supposedly FRV can also do color balance adjustments, but I haven't gotten that to work.

I recently had to reload Windows and all my applications due to a bad Windows crash, and I didn't even re-install FRV. Fortunately it wasn't too expensive.. Maybe I'll go back to FRV someday, but I want to master the DEVELOP module first.

Phil Burton
 

PeteGB

Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2011
Messages
53
Location
Scotland, UK
Lightroom Experience
Intermediate
Lightroom Version
Classic 7
One thing not mentioned above is LR Mobile, which I find immensely useful at the culling stage.

After a shoot I put card into PC, ingest into LR which copies pics to computer and imports to LR catalogue, then I create a collect containing all pictures and sync to LR Mobile.

I can now do initial cull and some quite sophisticated editing and image manipulation on iPad or even iPhone which means I don’t need to be sitting in office in front of PC. Especially at initial cull stage where it’s just Pick/Reject I can work while watching TV, sit in sun with a wine or even just be in the same room as my wife rather than locked away on my own.

Only other comment I’d add is that I find it’s helpful to shut LR down and restart after an intense period of flagging/keywording/editing. I find it start to get a bit slower to respond and if I leave it too long it can freeze for longish periods.

Enjoy . . . .
 
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