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Making my changes permanent

Cheshire4Dave

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I love LR's database and use tags and face recognition and have invested time in getting these right. I have also folder by folder made all the edits I want to. I'm now in a position where my historical photo library is complete.

I would now like to make all my changes permanent to the original files so that I can use these externally to lightroom without having to worry whether or not I've exported them.

I can no doubt work out how to do this. The question I have is if I now delete the originals from LR and reimport the permanently changed files, will all the tag data be reimported correctly into the database such that searches on tags or faces will work?

I am an amateur and a beginner to LR.
 
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Sorry, you cannot do that. Lightroom stores its edits in the database (catalog), it does not write changes into the pixels of the images. Even not if you want it to. You will have to export the images to get a version where the edits are 'baked into the pixels'.
 

Gnits

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You should read this article .... Lightroom Catalogs - Top 10 Misunderstandings | The Lightroom Queen

I would now like to make all my changes permanent to the original files
As Johan said .... this cannot be done.

What you can do is to export your images ......
1. In a format of your choice (you have to decide ..jpg, tiff, psd, etc)
2. Bit Depth (8,16,32 depending on format).
3. Colour Space setting (srgb,Adobrgb,ProphotoRGB)
4. Optional is pixel dimensions, but I assume you want to keep all your pixels.

Why should you bother to do that now and discover later you need a different combination of 1-4.

At any stage you can generated an exported version with the specs needed at the time (eg small srgb jpg for web or 16 bit AdobeRGB Tiff for a fine art print).

You just need to manage (and backup) the Lr catalog and your original images.
 

Cheshire4Dave

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Thanks to you both. If I've exported in the quality I want, delete the original and then re-import will all my tags be re-imported and stored in the database? Otherwise I would have to go through retagging and face reco again and would lose the benefits (to me) of LR.
 
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It definitely saves the names as keywords. If I remember correctly, export as original does keep the face location whereas write metadata to files doesn't... but do test that before you go ahead.

Either way, you would lose a fair chunk of information - flags, collection membership, virtual copies, and various other minor bits that aren't written to the files.
 

Gnits

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Are you trying to save space ? If you save as jpg you will have smaller files but you are losing data, if saved as 16 bit tiffs you will consume more space.
 
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... and would lose the benefits (to me) of LR.
Hi Dave, and welcome!

Your plan, as explained, completely destroys the whole point of using Lightroom.
Trying to destroy original files and replace them with the processed derivatives is a really bad idea.

It is a bit like going to the hardware store and buying the most expensive power drill on offer and then proceeding to smash it up because one is trying to use it as a hammer instead of a power drill.

Lightroom is designed, philosophically and practically, to retain and preserve the original files in their original state on the basis that this is the highest quality file. (And they are - the potential need for editing notwithstanding!)
There are extensive options for creating derivative files from the original (processed or unprocessed) as and when they are required.
It is not required and generally discouraged to re-import these derivatives because there really is no point - one can always create a derivative from the original at any time and the derivative has nothing that it can offer over and above the original (along with edits and metadata).

I fully understand that you are an acknowledged newbie and are still trying to find your way in the world of Lightroom, parametric editing, and digital asset management.
On this basis I make an earnest plea to you to become much more informed about Lightroom and the advantages of the paradigm in which it operates.
This forum is oozing, dripping, with expertise in these matters and we would be very happy to guide you through the issues.

As things stand, I feel, to go through with your plan would be a self-inflicted tragedy.
(I apologise for the forthright choice of language and simile and perhaps a touch of hyperbole but if it gets your attention then I have succeeded.)

Tony Jay
 

Cheshire4Dave

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Thank you Tony for your forthrightness. I'm trying to get to grips with Lightroom using Victoria's book (which is very good). I appreciate what you say about the original being the highest quality image, which with photos taken by digital cameras is obviously true. My question is not about this or saving space.

My reason for asking this question is because I'm digitising my entire photo collection by scanning in a large number of photos from 1954 to 2002 taken with a number of different cameras. I'm cropping, straightening, changing colour, contrast & light using LR Auto features as a starting point and then finer tuning if needed. I must say LR does a fantastic job. I then use face reco and add keywords. What I end up with is what I consider, the finished article and is what I would like to make permanent. I have no intention to do this to my digital photos from 2002 onwards.

Is what I'm asking a really bad idea as you suggest now I've explained what I'm hoping to achieve more clearly? Apologies for not doing this before.
 
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Although Lightroom does not yet have feature for designating an image as "final" - i.e. not for further editing - there is nothing to stop you assigning a colour label or even a keyword to indicate that fact.
(A strong suggestion has, in fact, been made to Adobe to implement such a feature!)
The edits you have made can be permanent - just don't edit those image any further!
If you need help recognizing which images are which in this regard then implement a system similar to that described in my opening sentence of this post.
You can even assign which images either need editing or which don't to Smart collections based on the presence or absence of the criteria mentioned above to make things even easier.

It really doesn't change things that the source of the images in question happens to be a scanner and not a digital camera!

Tony Jay
 

Cheshire4Dave

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Here's where we disagree. 99% of my scanned images need serious editing but few of my digital images do.

Once I've finalised my editing and cataloging of the scanned images, I'll never go back to them, hence wanting to make them permanent. They are now much better than the original photo.

Making the changes permanent will speed up my downstream processes of making albums etc. outside of LR.

Whilst these permanently changed images are still not of the quality of my digital images, I would like to use them as my "starting point" or "original" in LR so that I can have the best of both worlds of digital asset management within LR and outside it in the world of Windows applications.
 
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If you go ahead with your plan the day will come when you regret this course of action.
The logic about whether an image needs serious editing or not is flawed as is the logic about making albums etc.

I cannot make you do or not do anything but I can only repeat my advice to learn about how Lightroom really works before making any irretrievable steps because to me you seem stuck in a mindset that does not fit with Lightroom best practice or digital asset management best practice more generally.

Tony Jay
 

Gnits

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Some arguments against your approach is that :

Software for editing images is getting better all the time.
Your own skill set improves over time.
Your needs downstream may change.

You can easily create a set of current "post processed masters" by exporting the images into a folder (or sub folder) of your choice and having them remain within Lr. All future work can be done with these masters. You are losing a small amount of disk space.
 

Cheshire4Dave

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Thank you Tony for your continuing forthrightness. Having been an engineer for 40 years (now retired), I fully understand flawed logic and the importance of having an open mind and so hopefully, with you being a guru, I may be able to convince you of my case.

This is all about digitising a photo collection from prints NOT ongoing digital images. I will study and learn about Lightroom in due course. I have a good quality Canon scanner which has done its best with my 2,000 fairly poor, some faded, photo prints. I can scan about 4 prints at a time, so this process has taken a while. My objective is to streamline the editing process and manage the photos within a database environment - hence buying Lr.

You say .........

Lightroom is designed, philosophically and practically, to retain and preserve the original files in their original state on the basis that this is the highest quality file.

Here's where I believe you're wrong in that my original file is what the scanner produced. Having edited my scanned images with Lightroom, these images are now the highest quality ones which I want to become my base files.

I've run some controlled tests to determine
  1. after editing and tagging whether the exported image is identical to Lr's image (with its updates held in the database)
  2. whether the exported image can be reimported and edited successfully
  3. whether this approach breaks the design, philosophy and practicality of Lightroom

Also as part of this, to develop my workflow for digitising my large photo print collection

My process
  1. import the scanned images into Lightroom
  2. add tags
  3. edit, crop, straighten in the Develop module
  4. run the face reco
  5. export to a new folder
  6. reimport into Lightroom into a new folder
  7. attempt to edit the newly imported images

Results
  1. The original image viewed in LR looks identical to the exported one
  2. All the tags in the test have persisted across import/export/reimport
  3. The newly imported image is fully editable as far as I can see
  4. The resultant exported image on disk is considerably better than the base original from the scanner
  5. The image on disk can now be directly inserted into MS word to create documents and albums
  6. I now have the highest quality images I can produce (given the raw materials) in both Lightroom and on disk
I honestly can't see a downside and am in the process of writing up my workflow (which Victoria champions in her book). For me this is a one-off exercise for my scanned photos.

What am I missing?

Thanks - Dave
 
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What you are missing here is that it's a free world. :) If this is how you want to setup your workflow, then by all means do so! You seem to know what you're doing, why you are doing it and it works for you. So why do you seek approval from any of us?
 
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When an image is "Final", simply create a Snapshot called Final. As long as you don't deliberately (and it is a very deliberate act-not performed easily by accidental) update the "Final" snapshot, you will always have a final version available with a single mouse click. Not only this, you can have multiple Finals - all savable to XMP, sharable via DNG and not requiring the construct of the Lightroom catalog to execute.
 

tspear

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Dave,

For now, my post processing editing skill involves the use of masking filters (gradient, radial, brush...), global adjustments (exposure, contrast) and in very limited measures hue, color temp. Where I do not have the skill yet is for color tone curves. I "finished" many images from years ago, as I have increased my skills I have periodically gone back and re-edited some of the images to make them "better", in fact I have sometimes undone previous work as I can do it better now.
With digital images, regardless of the original image data (CMOS chips, processed JPEG, Scanned TIFF), many of the formats "lose" information with each conversion. Therefore, if I had exported, deleted in Lr, and re-imported I would have lost the ability to go back to the original image as my skills improved.

With the size and ever expanding capabilities of Lr, I tend to doubt I will ever "catch" up and truly say an image is final and I will never touch it again.

Lastly, Lr has a great feature called publish. This allows Lr to maintain an exported "copy" of the "final" rendition of the images. If you ever "improve" the images again, you can just click update and Lr will update in place all the exported images.

Good luck,
 

Gnits

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When an image is "Final", simply create a Snapshot called Final.
Great idea.

Also .... this request to Adobe ...
Lightroom: Mark a photo as the FINAL version | Photoshop Family Customer Community

One drawback is that you can search / select by "Snapshot Status" but you cannot Search / Select images with, say, a Snapshot name of "Final".
The same restriction applies to Smart Collections, but maybe there is a clever way around this.

It is still a useful technique as you can at least easily revert to your version of the Final settings for your image.

My advice to Cheshire4Dave .
a. Some suggestions posted ..... you can consider .....
b. Wait a few months before deleting the original scans.

Ultimately, you know what you want to do and understand better than anyone your own priorities.
 

Cheshire4Dave

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Thanks to all for your time and suggestions. I'll do some more research and develop my workflow hopefully avoiding doing anything I'll regret further down the line.

Back to studying the Missing FAQ book!

Dave
 

PhilBurton

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Thanks to all for your time and suggestions. I'll do some more research and develop my workflow hopefully avoiding doing anything I'll regret further down the line.

Back to studying the Missing FAQ book!

Dave
Dave,

Disk storage is cheap these days, the non-SSD type. I can buy a 4 TB Hitachi Deskstar drive from www.newegg.com for about US $140 these days. Use Lightroom to copy your "final" images to a separate set of folders. But please don't discard your originals. As many people have pointed out, your needs may change in the future. Or perhaps your heirs' needs.
 
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This is no doubt complete heresy, but in Dave's defense, I understand his decision. I've spent the last couple of years photographing all our old family snapshots... and then I converted them all to lossy DNG's instead of retaining the original raw files. I'm not throwing away the negatives, and if I needed a perfectly high quality scan, I'd scan that particular picture properly again. These copies don't have to be perfect - they're just better than the boxes of albums in the loft because we can actually see these.

This, in my mind, is different to throwing away original digital images because in this scenario, the negatives are my originals - not the initial scans.
 

tspear

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Victoria,

Ah, but those originals fade. I was actually looking at some pictures from 2004 with my daughter last night and some have degraded rather sharply.
 

PhilBurton

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This is no doubt complete heresy, but in Dave's defense, I understand his decision. I've spent the last couple of years photographing all our old family snapshots... and then I converted them all to lossy DNG's instead of retaining the original raw files. I'm not throwing away the negatives, and if I needed a perfectly high quality scan, I'd scan that particular picture properly again. These copies don't have to be perfect - they're just better than the boxes of albums in the loft because we can actually see these.

This, in my mind, is different to throwing away original digital images because in this scenario, the negatives are my originals - not the initial scans.
Virginia,

That approach works, until it doesn't. Negatives can fade over time, especially color, which has happened to my 40+ year old Kodacolor negatives. Also negatives can be damaged by mis-handling or even lost due to calamity.

Digitization can preserve the negative at its current level of quality.
 
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"Highest quality" does not mean "finished product".
As soon as you create a derivative file from your edited scan data is lost in the translation.
Making an 8-bit JPEG - massive data loss.
Making a 16.bit TIFF - much less but still data loss and loss of future editing flexibility.
 
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Negatives can fade over time, especially color, which has happened to my 40+ year old Kodacolor negatives. Also negatives can be damaged by mis-handling or even lost due to calamity.
Of course. But these are snapshots that have been sat in the loft for years, never seeing the light of day. If they haven't been missed for that long, the minor differences between a full mosaic raw and a JPEG compressed lossy DNG is peanuts.
 
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