If the files exist in the catalog, then they do not need to be imported again as they are already there.
What happens if you try to access these "missing" files in the Develop module?
Since you have noticed that the files are missing from the hard drive before Lightroom noticed they are missing, copying the files from the backup to the expected directory should solve any problems before Lightroom notices (that is copy, not move).
Or, I am not understanding the problem....
It seems to me that you should be able to copy those images back to the folder where they are supposed to be. If those images are being identified as missing in Lightroom, putting them back in the folder where they were should fix that problem. Alternatively you should be able to update the folder location. If the files are already in the catalog there is no need to import them again. It's simply a matter of getting everything synchronized. Remember that images are not in the catalog. They are in the folders on your computer, and the catalog simply points to them at their location. You need to exercise extreme caution, and understand what you are doing if you decide you need to move images. Otherwise you can run into problems like you are facing now.
Thanks for the suggestions (and warnings). I am pretty experienced with Lightroom and know the structure behind it. What was weird here was that when I try to bring one of the images back in through Synch or Import, says "It's already part of the database" BUT when searching for the image by file name LR finds others that share the same file number (not strange) but NOT the image I want (strange). This search was performed at the root of the file/folder structure, so should be looking into every folder in the database. An Explorer search shows that the image is no longer in the database folders. It is only found in the "Backup" folders created by LR when ingesting the card at the original import.
OK, so use the OS to move some of the files (12) back "inside" the folder, click Synch folder and it tells me there are 12 new photos. So far so good. BUT -- although they are now "there" in the folder and re-imported they still do not show up in the Library thumbnail view and can't be searched in Lightroom (by file name). The 12 didn't show up on a import screen with one lone PS image in that batch that was newly created this afternoon and DID show as a new import. I expected to see the 12 on that screen.
To answer one question offered today: No, the images do not show in the Develop module.
So something tells Lightroom these are not new and that they are aready there. However, not searchable.
Next step changing the names of the offending file, like appending a letter. See if that makes them look "new".
I think I can fix this as long as I have to original CR2 files unprocessed, which thankfully, I do. Anyone have a theory about what causes this? Never had it happen.
As I said earlier I didn't have thumbnails with question marks, which is easy to understand when it happens.
Lightroom is not a file browser. It does not show you the photos in a particular folder, unless they have been imported into that folder using "ADD", or somehow copied/moved into that folder via Lightroom methods. So there is nothing particularly wrong with Lightroom not seeing the photos you have placed into that folder using your operating system.
Your problem is that the photos exist somewhere in the catalog already (possibly because you accidentally used "Copy" or "Move" on import). Importing or synchronizing will not solve the problem. The solution is to find the photos in your Library Module and then (if desired) use Lightroom to move them to the proper folder.
To do this search you must do all of the following 4 steps (not one or two or three of these steps, but all 4 steps)
- Go to the Catalog Panel and click on All Photographs
- Turn off all Filters using Ctrl-L once or twice
- Expand All Stacks
- Search for the photos by file name
Good suggestion. My searches were at the "Lightroom" root but somehow there is a super-set called Catalog, which includes hard disks outside of the RAID array devoted to the "Lightroom catalog" as I defined it in my head: Disk "K".
The missing images - some of them - are cataloged in the backup folder where the card ingestion backups go. No previews - ? The images stay grey as thumbnails, clicking them does not trigger a preview. Except for the first one. I have made another copy in Windows Explorer so will try a "Move" within Lightroom to get them into the right on-disk folder.
I must have mistakenly imported at the time of the shoot from this backup location instead of the folder on the card. Hard to think how that happened... because the backup can't exist without the original import. And where did that go?
Again, than you.