Managing Images on the Hard Drive & Collections

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Jim McClain

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Back in the early 90s, I got my first computer and became active on CompuServe. Somehow I ended up working as a SysOp for a Playboy contractor, GoGraphicsGroup. I wasn't paid in $$$, but got a few gifts (lifetime subscription to the magazine, selected gifts from the catalog for Xmas, etc.). One of the etcetera's was a program called Thumbs+. As years went on and I graduated from CServe to the real Internet, I ended up on the beta team for Thumbs+. I never thought of myself as very technically proficient with the software and wasn't able to be of much help, but they didn't seem to mind. I stopped participating after a while and lost contact. I still use Thumbs+ and have become entrenched in my image file management routines. But my version is less capable on Windows 7 and even the newer version doesn't manage RAW well without a plugin and other tweaks.

One habit I developed many years ago is renaming files to organize them better. I have all my various categories/folders in the main My Pictures folder and the pictures in these subfolders are renamed to make them very easy to find. When I download pictures from my camera, they first go into a "sort" folder, where I view them and delete those I don't want to keep. I then batch rename groups of images (eg: qcy-courthouse001.jpg, qcy-courthouse002.jpg, etc.; segway-tires01.jpg, segway-tires02.jpg and so-on), add some keywords (date, etc.) and then move them to their final folder location.

I would like to continue to manage my images on the hard drive in this manner before I import them into Lightroom. I am giving FastStone Image Viewer a try, but can't seem to select either a series or a random selection of images and view them full-screen by arrowing through them (in Thumbs+, you select any number of images, then hit Enter and spacebar or backspace through the selected images). FastStone seems to have some great features and the initial interface is a familiar one, but it is taking some getting used to as far as using the controls. If you know of a better program, please share the name (or better yet, a link).

This HDD management, prior to importing to LR, seems like a good way to manage my images. But then, after I import them, would you suggest my RAW files be added to collections with similar/same names as their corresponding folders? And would you suggest importing all the subfolders in My Pictures at once - that would be 263 folders and over 23,000 images. Or maybe I should only import those folders with RAW & Tiff files and keep the output files (jpegs) in the appropriate folders on the HDD.

All this is new to me since I decided to get the new camera and start using the RAW format and develop in LR. I don't want to make decisions that will be very difficult to correct once I get going. Your guidance will be appreciated.

Thanks,

Jim
 
This HDD management, prior to importing to LR, seems like a good way to manage my images.
If think a bit about what you have said. You have said, "I want to manage my images before I give them to the image manager to manage." Does that really make sense to you? Thumbs+ and Faststone and Explorer are all some sort of file manager. LR is specialized in that it it manages images from the camera card to the end product (derivative file or print). LR is a paradigm shift from grouping images by file name and folder.

Forget for a minute that the images are on file in a file system. An Image file can only be in one folder at a time, yet it can belong to many different groups (collections) simultaneously. What are the characteristics about a particular image that let you find and use it? Can you give me all of the images shot on June8th? Can you give me all the images of a Magnolia blossom? Can you give me the Magnolia blossom that was shot on June 8th, was cropped, is a B&W and selected by me to send to my camera club competition? None of those queries need a file name or a folder location. Lightroom is your new image file manager. It is counter purpose to try to manage you image files outside of LR. Any time you find yourself visually scanning lists of file names looking to a particular file, remember you could be finding that file faster and more efficiently using LR's filters and Smart Collections.
 
If think a bit about what you have said. You have said, "I want to manage my images before I give them to the image manager to manage." Does that really make sense to you?
Yes actually, it does. I am not in the habit of not making sense to myself. I realize it doesn't make sense to you, because you haven't been doing it this way for 20+ years. I have. You are a LR Power User, I have been using LR for only a few days.

Thumbs+ and Faststone and Explorer are all some sort of file manager. LR is specialized in that it it manages images from the camera card to the end product (derivative file or print). LR is a paradigm shift from grouping images by file name and folder.
LR is a photo manager and editor, I understand that. But it manages a database of RAW and JPG, TIFF, PSD and PNG images. It doesn't manage GIF or BMP file types, of which I probably have a couple thousand of. I don't have Adobe Bridge. I do have a number of websites of my own and I manage a couple others. I have created themes/skins and other graphics using Fireworks CS6, but that doesn't come with Bridge and I am unwilling to pay 50 bucks a month for CC. As much as LR does, it doesn't do all things. I'm not sure yet if it does everything I need - it has its limitations.

Any time you find yourself visually scanning lists of file names looking to a particular file, remember you could be finding that file faster and more efficiently using LR's filters and Smart Collections.
LR is not the only program capable of finding files by date, keyword, rating, etc. I am just beginning to learn it and am finding new ways to work, but I have found that it takes longer to do an initial sort, elimination, batch renaming and moving to the appropriate folder than it does using LR - and LR doesn't do all of that, only part of that. If it does, I haven't learned it yet.

I just tried sorting some pictures in LR. When I deleted one of them, it didn't delete the image from the HDD. The image was also still visible in Smart Collections. I'm having a hard time getting used to the program asking me to confirm everything I want to do with a file. I realize there is a learning curve. It's a struggle though.

Jim
 
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