Disappearing Images-HELP!

ALISHA

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Hi I am new to Lightroom 6, (and photography in general), and am having an issue with my images missing after I upload them to lightroom,and then to shootproof for my clients to view. Here (was) my steps in importing/exporting: (very simplified I know for you experts)
1-insert SD card, import images into lightroom (at first I was just importing the entire collection of photos I had taken for that session and sorting them in the Library).
2-once they are imported, I would edit a few in the develop module that day and export them into a folder on the desktop so I could post them to Facebook as a sneak peak for the client.
3-Then I would proceed to edit the rest of the images and export them into a client folder on the desktop. At the time I didn't know that you had to do anything with the image sizing so I just left them as is when I exported them. When I exported the images into the same folder I had already exported the previous few for the sneak peak, I would get the message to overwrite or something like that...so I would just delete them out of that folder and then re-export. Apparently that was wrong!! I would then import them into Shootproof, and they look fine of course, but any image over 5x7 gave me a low DPI warning.
4-When I would get a low DPI warning, I started researching and found out how to set that, so I went back and tried to export the image again into shootproof at the proper dimensions. In the mean time, I had (stupidly) removed the collection from lightroom. I tried to just re-import from the client folder, and i think that was a mistake also because it didn't work like I had hoped and I couldn't fix the quality. However I had not deleted them from the SD, so I thought I could go back into the SD and import the original images again and re-edit if I had to, but all of the images I had already edited and exported or grayed out, and I cannot select them! Its as if they are gone forever, and I'm afraid that is the case. Luckily I only have one client that this has happened to, but its still devastating! So now I can't figure out what to do to get the quality images back so that they can print larger than 5x7. Again, I am a beginner and have no idea what I'm doing, so any advice is welcome on what I can do to prevent this in the future, or if I can fix it now! Thank you!
 
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Hi Alisha, welcome to the forum!

Ok, there are a couple of crucial details you need to understand to avoid future problems:

1. Photos are never "In" Lightroom. When you import from an SD card, you copy the photos to the hard drive, at a location you select in the Destination panel. This is really important, so take notice of where you put them.

2. If you rename, move or delete those originals outside of Lightroom, then Lightroom won't be able to find them. You'll still see previews in the Library module, but you won't be able to edit or export them.

3. If you remove photos from Lightroom's catalog, you lose all of the work you've done to them. You're better off keeping the photos in Lightroom longterm.

4. Re-importing photos usually ends in tears. Just leave them in there.

I'm not entirely clear on why you had problems with the quality after reimporting. The most likely suspect is you imported the exported photos, which of course won't get any bigger.

In terms of recovery, the biggest question right now is where you put your originals of these photos. Or we can help you recover them from your backups, if you have backups. (And if you don't have backups, that's your first job.)

I think it would probably help you to get an overview out how Lightroom works. I have a free Quick Start eBook that should get you off on the right foot for future shoots: Free Adobe Lightroom Quick Start PDF eBooks to learn the basics
 
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Oh, I've just spotted that you hadn't deleted the photos from the SD card. Great job! Ok, we can work with that.

Put the card in, open the Import dialog and tell us exactly what you can see (e.g. are they greyed out, or do they say "already in Library" or what happens?)
 

ALISHA

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HI, thank you so much for taking the time to help me!! I will check on this when I get home tonight and get back to you!!

Alisha
 

ALISHA

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HI, Ok I have the SD card in and all of the images in the import section are grayed out..I cannot select any of the images I have previously imported. The ones that I had already edited and imported for the client are sort of "Popped out" on the page if that makes sense, but are still grayed out, and if I click on them they say "appears to be a duplicate of another photo already in the catalog". The ones that are just grayed out that I didnt edit, but imported to lightroom previously just say "already in catalog". So when I go back to the library to the folder with my edited images in it, they each have an ! in the upper right corner..so If I click on the !, it says "file couldnt be used because original file could not be found". So this has come up before, so before I clicked the "Locate" option in this prompt. At this point before, I had taken the photos out of the trash and put them back on the desktop, so I think those are the files that were "located" before? not sure...because it seemed to work and the ! was gone, so I exported them at a larger size for printing and thought I was done...However the images still appeared weird and pixelated, even on the screen! So I removed them AGAIN from shootproof and am back to square one!
 
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Sorry for the delay replying Alisha.

Sounds like you've made good progress. So the exclamation mark is gone, and the photos are editable in the Develop module again?

All we need to do now is figure out why the photos look pixelated. WHERE do they look pixelated? And what pixel dimensions are you using? It's possible they were simply cached by your web browser, in which case, they might have been fine before you removed them from shootproof.
 

ALISHA

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Hi, This might be a little redundant..but work with me please! The exclamation mark is there now..and I am thinking all of the images I have in lightroom that were uploaded and re-uploaded are junk at this point because the quality is visibly awful...I was referring to the last time when I tried to do all the re-uploading to try and fix things, and when the exclamation point was gone and I re-uploaded to shootproof that's when they were terrible looking...originally I didn't do anything with the pixel size and that's why it was too low to begin with...I think maybe I just set the pixel size too high the second time around? Not sure what I did... BUT...I have all of the edited photos in a folder on my desktop...they look perfect to the eye, but they are all at 1000x662 pixels. And these are the images I originally exported from lightroom and into shootproof....so those images are still in shootproof waiting to be ordered, but I can't change the pixel size to accomodate a decent print larger than 5x7 because, as I said, I had already taken them out of lightroom and only had them in this folder. HOWEVER...I do still have them on the SD, unedited, and those are sized at 3264x4928 pixels. So, really, my question now is-- is there some way to change those edited images' pixel size without ruining the integrity of the photo? Or do I have to re-upload all of the original images from my SD and re-edit all of them, just to export them at the original resolution for quality large prints?
 

ALISHA

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Also, what is the best way to save my files after I've taken the photos and am ready to start editing...should I just immediately save all of the files to my external drive, or usb, or should I only save the edited files from lightroom, in original format, to those sources? I notice that my raw files are being converted to DNG files in lightroom, is that ok? Or should I be changing some settings in order to keep them in raw format from lightroom?
 
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If the exclamation mark is still there, we need to put the photos back where Lightroom's expecting to find them. If the exclamation disappeared previously, when you "did all the reuploading to try and fix things", then you just need to do that again. So how did you go about doing that?

And this time, once you've finished, don't delete the original photos from the hard drive! It's deleting or moving the photos from the hard drive that's causing this problem. The whole point of Lightroom is to leave them in there. Read the Quick Start eBook carefully before you import any more shoots.

Photos being converted to DNG isn't inherently a problem, but until you understand what you're doing, you're probably better selecting Copy at the top of the Import dialog instead of Copy as DNG. (But to be clear, if the exclamation mark photos were DNG's, you'll need to copy as DNG for these ones.)
 

ALISHA

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I think I just clicked on the ! and chose locate...so this time when I choose where to locate them from, should I choose the smaller edited files on the desktop? Because I am sure that's what I did before when it screwed them up..or should I choose to locate them from the SD originals?
I was deleting them from lightroom because it was already locking up on me so I thought maybe I just needed to get some of them out of there. It was faster after that, so I thought that was the problem. I won't be deleting them anymore though!
 

ALISHA

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I went back and just chose the files from the SD when I located them, and that seemed to restore the lightroom images..all but 3. So I thought I should just be able to upload the originals of those 3 again and just edit them again, but as I think I mentioned earlier, ALL of the photos are grayed out when I try to upload them. Any idea why?
 
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Ok, hang on, step back a minute. You can cause all sorts of problems if you rush ahead.

I went back and just chose the files from the SD when I located them, and that seemed to restore the lightroom images..all but 3.
Think about this a second... if you update Lightroom's links to point to the SD card, the moment you remove the SD card, Lightroom won't be able to find them again. Big mess!

In Lightroom, when you click on one of the leftover exclamation marks, it comes up telling you where it's expecting to find the photos. Show us a screenshot of that dialog, and a screenshot of that folder in Windows Explorer. Once you've done that, we'll walk you through copying the photos manually from the SD card into the correct location, so that they're safely copied off the card and back in the right place.
 

ALISHA

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I'm not sure how to screenshot, but what I've started doing is moving those raw files to my external drive right away, and then I changed that source in the dialog box to that external drive, and it has worked out great. Thanks so much for your help.
 
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