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What do you wish you knew when you were getting started with Lightroom?

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I'm working on the getting started information for beginners, and perhaps you can help me... it's a little while since I was a beginner!

Stretch your mind way back... when you first got your hands on Lightroom, what did you want to know?

For example, did you need to know how to import existing photos or just new ones? Were you worried about renaming at that stage? What about adding metadata?

And then what did you want to do when you first got your photos into Lightroom? Were you interested in rating the photos, or did you go straight to Develop and play with them?

Did you bother to play with slideshows and prints to start with? Did you try to export?

If you could roll back time and give yourself some tips, what would you tell yourself? What do you wish you knew?

Thanks!
 

Allan Olesen

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I think we are using a lot of effort discussing which word to use. But I think what matters is the understanding that Lightroom will not take the control over photo location away from the user.
 
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I know a little bit (more) about databases. But with LR I am a photographer, NOT a IT specilist, so I want to know how to treat LR and what I can or must not do.

Thank you for illustrating my point, Willem. I know that it seems that we are mincing words, as Allan has said above (i.e. index or catalog), but concepts like LR's paradigm are hard to explain with just a few words to somebody who is not familiar with the program. Both terms seem to work, as you have illustrated, but I am still finding it difficult to sum up how LR works in just a few sentences. I realize that a summary is not the be-all, end-all solution for beginners, but I believe that how they get started with LR has a big impact on if they run into the common problems that are frequently posted in the forum. I applaud Victoria for asking the question!

--Ken
 

Rose Weir

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I came into Lightroom via the demise of Rawshooter. I had NO IDEA what was required in the library. Once the images were actually displaying in Lightroom I headed for develop and basically followed the previous routine done with Rawshooter...i.e. export a tif and then follow that up in external software. It was a long time before I could get into the aspects of keywords, collections, naming files...long time means at least two years.
The very term 'hierarchy' can be a foreign language term to a newcomer. I'll admit it is only the recent past that I have reorganized the lengthy keyword list into hierarchy structure.
My opinion is that the 'organization how to' portion of the book have diagrams, simple or recipe style 'how to' steps and WHY this will pay off in the long term.
Real world little examples could be anecdotes.
This month I had a massive project to prepare into a presentation and at this late date in the game discovered the total value of keywords.....or the absence of that keyword <grin> The project went together in no time using a collection. I needed landscape type photos and was able to sleuth out candidates from over a 3 year period.
The only glitch I had was a different file naming structure in 2009-2010. I've finally landed on a consistent file naming structure that is easy to filter and search at this time but its a custom naming template that suits me. I prefer the image suffix to be the first thing in the name.
Its the simple things that get overlooked for organization
Rose
 

Allen

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I was using Elements before Lightroom. The biggest improvements that LR gave me were:
1) quicker, simpler, better photo editing thanks to its easier user interface of its development tools, and
2) the integrated tagging/cataloging capability of LR.

It's SO much easier to stay on top of keywording the way LR enables me to do it via batch at import, and then in grid library for less-than-universal keywords in the set I just imported.

It's fair to say I now find Lightroom indispensable for both its post-processing and cataloging capabilities.
 
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So many gems in such a short thread. Ok, the outline is coming together...

I'm working on the assumption that it needs to be a real idiots guide, assuming no knowledge whatsoever.

Main things I'm hearing so far:

How the catalog relates to the photos - explaining the concept of a database
Basics of import dialog - add vs. copy, some default settings, adding basic metadata
How to organize files on the hard drive
How to name the photos?
Rating?
Creating collections & smart collections
Adding keywords
Basics of Develop
Basics of Export
Not too worried about slideshow, book, print, web, just a quick skim

Further thoughts?
 
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Victoria, I think that is a very fair summary.
Not that the output modules are unimportant just that if the fundamentals that you refer to correctly in place one can go on to playing with output modules without continually being hobbled by a poor grasp of those fundamentals.

Tony Jay
 
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If I knew then....what I know now...la la la.

1. Lightroom basically serves two functions. (i) to Raw develop / edit your photos (ii) Manages your photos.
2. You don't open photos like in usual photo viweres / editors. You first import them into LR then you view them from within LR.
3. That importing a photo does not mean moving or duplicating a photo but merely telling LR of the existence of that photo and where it is on your hard drive so that it can immeditaely locate it next time you fire up lightroom.
4. When you raw convert / edit a photo you are not touching the original photo. You are essentially creating edit instructions that are saved in LR's database. So what you see on your screen is the original photo with your LR edits applied.
5. To create a digital file of photo with your LR edits applied you do not Save As but you Export your photo. Exporting a photo is essentally the same as Save As.


To be continued........
 

Leslie

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Victoria, that summary seems ok.

I'll give my views which are those of someone who has only been using LR for 2 weeks.

I did a bit of reading before installing LR so I had my head round the idea that LR is a database and that my photos are not stored inside LR. One thing i've not fully grasped yet is what folder and file structure to use to store my photos in. However, from what i've been reading recently it seems that the file and folder structure are not as important as ensuring that my keywording and metadata is accurate and comprehensive. And that once I have my keywording and metadata sorted that collections are the way forward with regards finding particular photos. Maybe I didn't read the correct info before starting or maybe I put too much importance on trying to get a folder and file structure right that I glossed over the importance of keywording and metadata but I think that a guide to keywording and metadata and how you can use them to organise you photos would be useful.

The second thing i'm struggling with is where should I store the files that I export? I understand that export works like 'save as' and all of the develop settings are then saved with the file but so far i've only exported images to a memory stick as I didn't know where they should be saved on my hard drive. I guess this is linked to my point about folders and files.
 

Anthony.Ralph

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[..]

The second thing i'm struggling with is where should I store the files that I export? I understand that export works like 'save as' and all of the develop settings are then saved with the file but so far i've only exported images to a memory stick as I didn't know where they should be saved on my hard drive. I guess this is linked to my point about folders and files.

Just to clarify, the develop settings are saved in the LR catalogue and indeed, all the adjustments are applied when exporting an image.

Based on my own work practices; which are partially as a result of my reading of this and other forums, I would suggest that by and large exported images are not stored at all, beyond their immediate use. In other words, just export images - for example to load onto a website or to email to friends - and then discard them, as their recreation is the work of a moment should the need arise. This can appear counter intuitive to anyone who has come to LR from other programs and who are used to having a whole range of derivative versions all neatly tucked away - certainly it was in my case! In addition, the use of virtual copies within LR can allow several versions; treatments, crops, sizes, etc. to be maintained with no additional space being taken up on disk - which is great - and jolly convenient.

Anthony.
 
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However, from what i've been reading recently it seems that the file and folder structure are not as important as ensuring that my keywording and metadata is accurate and comprehensive.

It is true that Lightroom doesn't really care where or how your images are stored, provided you don't change things around without telling Lightroom. However, it can be useful to have your image folders under one or two 'parent folders', rather than haphazardly spread all over the place, particularly when considering your image backup scheme.

The second thing i'm struggling with is where should I store the files that I export? I understand that export works like 'save as' and all of the develop settings are then saved with the file but so far i've only exported images to a memory stick as I didn't know where they should be saved on my hard drive. I guess this is linked to my point about folders and files.

I agree with Anthony here, exports can in the main be regarded as 'disposable'...so where you locate them is largely immaterial. Also, have a look at Publish Services for those exports which you want to mainatin in sync with your original files, e.g. for web uploads. I use the Flickr publish service, as well as a host of hard drive publish services for iPhone/iPad, digital photo frames, etc. The web upload services are great in that no intermediate disk-based export is needed, so you haven't got to worry where they go.
 

Leslie

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Just to clarify, the develop settings are saved in the LR catalogue and indeed, all the adjustments are applied when exporting an image.

Based on my own work practices; which are partially as a result of my reading of this and other forums, I would suggest that by and large exported images are not stored at all, beyond their immediate use. In other words, just export images - for example to load onto a website or to email to friends - and then discard them, as their recreation is the work of a moment should the need arise. This can appear counter intuitive to anyone who has come to LR from other programs and who are used to having a whole range of derivative versions all neatly tucked away - certainly it was in my case! In addition, the use of virtual copies within LR can allow several versions; treatments, crops, sizes, etc. to be maintained with no additional space being taken up on disk - which is great - and jolly convenient.

Anthony.

Many thanks for that reply Anthony. The point you make about virtual copies is very interesting and something I had no knowledge of. Since I got my dslr I have only used the bundled software that Nikon sent with the camera to edit my photos. I have a very basic file system which has a 'raws' folder and a 'finals' folder. Basically all the raw files are in the raws folder (within different sub-folders) I then edit a selection of them and then I convert them to jpegs and store them in the finals folder. I've always been aware that this is creating two copies of the one photo and therefore taking up valuable disk space.

So with LR I could have different versions of the same photo (one colour and one mono, for instance) using virtual copies which wouldn't require double the disk space? I like that idea and maybe that's something that could be added to Victoria's beginners guide? Or is this getting a bit advanced for that?

Thanks again for your reply.
 

Anthony.Ralph

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[..]

So with LR I could have different versions of the same photo (one colour and one mono, for instance) using virtual copies which wouldn't require double the disk space?

[..]


Thanks again for your reply.

Spot on. You can have as many virtual copies as you like. In effect, Virtual copies are just alternate adjustment instructions stored in the catalogue for a given image. And of course they can be exported to provide a 'finished' image as discussed previously.

Anthony.
 
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If I knew then....what I know now...la la la.

1. Lightroom basically serves two functions. (i) to Raw develop / edit your photos (ii) Manages your photos.
2. You don't open photos like in usual photo viweres / editors. You first import them into LR then you view them from within LR.
3. That importing a photo does not mean moving or duplicating a photo but merely telling LR of the existence of that photo and where it is on your hard drive so that it can immeditaely locate it next time you fire up lightroom.
4. When you raw convert / edit a photo you are not touching the original photo. You are essentially creating edit instructions that are saved in LR's database. So what you see on your screen is the original photo with your LR edits applied.
5. To create a digital file of photo with your LR edits applied you do not Save As but you Export your photo. Exporting a photo is essentally the same as Save As.


To be continued........

More generally (and this is probably true of most programmes... but more so with LR) once you have mastered it you realise that it doesn't actually do that much (thats not a criticism at all) and you become fully aware of all the available features / options for developing / editing and cataloging. Afterall it was designed for photographs. After mastering LR you feel in control over the programme whereas at the start you feel that the programme has control over you, in much the same that Photoshop always did even after years of use ! Like many photoshop users I probably only just scratched the surface of using the available features and never ever felt in control.
 

seaduck

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I'm with Leslie: Conceptually understanding how to address exporting is/was a challenge. I still have issues with this aspect of LR: if for example, I'm emailing a friend and then decide I want to attach a photo, I need to open LR, find the pic, export it and then attach it. Exporting from LR, nearly as I can tell is LR-centric, meaning that everything written about it assumes that you are starting in LR. It still feels clunky in other situations when I am working in some other program and then feel the need to pull in a photo.
 

Anthony.Ralph

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I'm with Leslie: Conceptually understanding how to address exporting is/was a challenge. I still have issues with this aspect of LR: if for example, I'm emailing a friend and then decide I want to attach a photo, I need to open LR, find the pic, export it and then attach it. Exporting from LR, nearly as I can tell is LR-centric, meaning that everything written about it assumes that you are starting in LR. It still feels clunky in other situations when I am working in some other program and then feel the need to pull in a photo.

You can attach images to an email without having to open Lightroom, complete with the develop settings made to them - just set the check boxes in EDIT|CATALOG SETTINGS|METADATA to include develop settings.

Anthony.
 

Mark Sirota

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Anthony, that won't solve the problem that seaduck explained. Your solution will give you the original image file, complete with the XMP data that describes any edits that should be made to it. But it won't render a new JPEG with those settings.
 
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So with LR I could have different versions of the same photo (one colour and one mono, for instance) using virtual copies which wouldn't require double the disk space? I like that idea and maybe that's something that could be added to Victoria's beginners guide?

I think that would fit nicely, thanks! Great to have your input Leslie.

if for example, I'm emailing a friend and then decide I want to attach a photo, I need to open LR, find the pic, export it and then attach it.

Thanks seaduck, that's great info
 

Anthony.Ralph

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Anthony, that won't solve the problem that seaduck explained. Your solution will give you the original image file, complete with the XMP data that describes any edits that should be made to it. But it won't render a new JPEG with those settings.

Ah, I thought the develop adjustments were written back into Jpegs themselves with the settings I noted above. And by and large it's Jpegs that get emailed?

Anthony.
 

Brad Snyder

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Yes, the develop adjustments are written back to the JPG as XMP metadata if you so choose. However, at that point the adjustments are not rendered (we call it 'baked-in') in the file. Without Lr (or ACR) to process the XMP adjustment 'recipe', the metadata is fundamentally useless. It's only when the JPG are exported that the adjustments are actually rendered into pixel data.

That's the entire reasoning behind 'non-destructive editing' also know as parametric editing.
 

Anthony.Ralph

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Yes, the develop adjustments are written back to the JPG as XMP metadata if you so choose. However, at that point the adjustments are not rendered (we call it 'baked-in') in the file. Without Lr (or ACR) to process the XMP adjustment 'recipe', the metadata is fundamentally useless. It's only when the JPG are exported that the adjustments are actually rendered into pixel data.

That's the entire reasoning behind 'non-destructive editing' also know as parametric editing.

Of course - I had a moment's brain confusion, thinking that by writing back the developmet data into the Jpeg header, it would be available to other programs. Of course I know about parametics and 'baking in' vis-à-vis Lightroom.

Anthony.
 

Roscoe17

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What still vexes me is the best way to use colors to manage my workflow. I'm constantly tweaking it and still find myself not liking the product.
Emphasizing keywords, especially the hierarchial nature of them.
Convicing folks that "importing" photos is painless and doesn't actually move anything around (I've seen too many dismiss LR because of the catalog feature.

Like Allan, I cut my teeth on the free program Raw Shooter Essentials (which by the way the company that developed it and the premium version was bought by Adobe and was part of the genesis of Lightroom) and it was easy to use, very fast and didn't require importing...all of the edits were stored in proprietary sidecar files.
 
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