12 Replies Latest reply on Nov 2, 2016 4:51 AM by Mike McCollister

    I'm Considering Using Lighroom and Have Lots of Questions

    Mike McCollister

      I have been using Photoshop all the way up to CS6 in conjunction with Adobe Bridge to organize my photos. I shoot exclusively in camera raw so I have a bunch of xmp sidecar files that Adobe Camera Raw creates. This process has been working well for me over the years. However, I’m thinking of getting the Photoshop CC subscription and starting to use Lightroom so I have a bunch of questions.

       

      I have tried the trial version of Lightroom for a little bit so I know the basics. I have also seen some videos on the premise of Lightroom. I just need to know some details.

       

      Before I ask questions, let me explain how I have my photos organized.

       

      For a given image, I have named the files as such, “YYYYMMDD-NNNa- File Name.ext”. So the first photo of the day, which happens to be a pumpkin, will be named “20161031-001a - Pumpkin.cr2”. The second pumpkin photo will be named “20161031-002a - Pumpkin.cr2” and so on. I’ll have a folder that is named similarity as such, “20161031-001a - Pumpkins".

       

      I also have in my folders at Raw directory, which contains the raw and xmp files. An Originals directory which contains jpeg versions of the raw files before I started any camera raw changes. And the modified jpeg versions of the files (with “a” changed to “b” in the file name) in the root of the directory. I know that this is extremely redundant but has worked well so far. I envision getting rid of all the jpeg files and just going with the raw files and the Lightroom database, which should free up some considerable disk space.

       

      Now for the questions:

       

      1. When I import a folder, or series of folders into Lightroom, I noticed that the .xmp files get recognized by Lightroom. Am I right in seeing that the .xmp files are no longer used from this point on in Lightroom and that data is put into the database?
      2. Can I remove those .xmp files once the import has taken place?
      3. I suspect that after I import the files I’ll be moving directories around. For example, I might put all of the 2015 folders into a 2015 folder, all the 2016 folders into a 2016 folder, etc. Should I do this in the Windows File Explorer or is there a means to do that in Lightroom? If I do that via the File Explorer, will Lightroom find the files?
      4. Adobe Bridge has the ability to batch renames so that I can name my files as per my YYYYMMDD-NNNa scheme as described above. Does Lightroom have this same capability?
      5. Does Lightroom allow for Presets that I can create like Adobe Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw does? I typically like to do a +10 clarity, +10 vibrancy and +1 contrast on all of my photos as a starting point.
      6. I see that there is a Lightroom folder created in my pictures folder. Is this the full database that needs to be backed up? If so, is this all I need to use when I transfer my data to a new computer sometime in the future?
      7. Will it be OK to put the Lightroom folder on OneDrive (or Dropbox) so that I can have the same database between my laptop and desktop computers?
      8. When I upgrade my computer and transfer the database to the new computer, will the database still work if my user name changes? That is if my home folder is c:\users\Mike but on the new computer the home folder is c:\users\Fred.
      9. Does Lightroom give me the ability to do macros such tagging all the photos in a folder to be the same as the folder name minus the “YYYYMMDD-NNNa - "?

       

      I really appreciate any help with this. If I switch over to Lightroom, I have a lot of work ahead of me as I have over 800 folders of photos to deal with.

       

      Regards,

       

      Mike

        • 1. Re: I'm Considering Using Lighroom and Have Lots of Questions
          dj_paige Level 9
          1. Correct
          2. Yes
          3. Do it in Windows before import; but really, you want to get out of the idea of moving folders around as a way to "organize". Instead, you want to use Lightroom tools such as keywords and other metadata as your organizing tools. If you move the photos in Windows AFTER import, then Lightroom cannot find the folders/photos, and you will have to fix this — yes there is a way to do this, but why bother? It's just extra work, compared to not moving folders around.
          4. Lightroom has some batch renaming features, I don't know if these are exactly the same as in Bridge.
          5. You can create presets in Lightroom, this is one of it's strengths
          6. The database is a file whose name ends with .LRCAT; to create full backups, you need backups of this file (which should be done using the Lightroom tool to do this) and you need backups of all of your photos (this has to be done outside of Lightroom); and you need backups of your presets (this has to be done outside of Lightroom). If you have all of these things, you can transfer your LR to a new computer, or restore the backups if needed.
          7. The Lightroom catalog file cannot live in "the cloud". Some people have come up with workarounds, this is not recommended, in general they don't work that well.
          8. You are changing your name from Mike to Fred? Don't do that. Keep the file structure the same on both computers. Make your life simple. (Although the database can go in any folder with write permissions that you want it to go in, on a local drive; but when you move the photos, you want the folder structure to be identical on both computers)
          9. Not that I know of
          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: I'm Considering Using Lighroom and Have Lots of Questions
            ManiacJoe Adobe Community Professional

            DJ has you pointed in the right direction.

             

            Some additional thoughts:

             

            Your Lightroom catalog is not a picture thus storing it in the "pictures" folder seems odd. I put my LrCat file(s) in their own folder "\lr_catalogs". The location of the catalog has nothing to do with the location of the original images.

             

            By default LR creates backups of the catalog and places them in a subfolder of the catalog's folder. These backups really need to be placed on a separate drive (easy one-time change) so that a single drive failure does not take everything with it.

            1 person found this helpful
            • 3. Re: I'm Considering Using Lighroom and Have Lots of Questions
              Conrad C Adobe Community Professional & MVP

              Mike McCollister wrote:

              • Adobe Bridge has the ability to batch renames so that I can name my files as per my YYYYMMDD-NNNa scheme as described above. Does Lightroom have this same capability?

              Not exactly. Both Bridge and Lightroom can rename files in bulk using various metadata along with text you enter, but Lightroom is missing the "String Substitution" option in Bridge. That means Lightroom cannot do a "find and change" filename rename. You might want to review tutorial videos about renaming files in Lightroom to make sure you can achieve the filename structure you need within the limitations of how Lightroom renames files. This is important because once images are added to the Lightroom database, bulk renaming using any tool outside of Lightroom will break the links between the database and the images.

               

              For example, I'm guessing it will be easy to rename a camera file to YYYYMMDD-NNN in Lightroom using a [YYYMMDD] date token followed by a hyphen and an [000] sequence token if the images are already in the correct sort order. I'm not so sure about the "a" and the "Pumpkin" parts of the example filename, but if you add those in Lightroom by hand after the bulk rename that should work fine.

              1 person found this helpful
              • 4. Re: I'm Considering Using Lighroom and Have Lots of Questions
                Just Shoot Me Adobe Community Professional

                1) Yes and no depending on what setting you have. There is a setting in the LR Catalog settings dialog, "Auto write changes to XMP", that if checked the edits you do will be written to both the catalog file and to the XMP file. This allows both Bridge and ACR to see and display the edits.

                2) You can but I don't suggest it. If you ever go back to Bridge & ACR for whatever reason and there are no XMP files you will be starting from square one (No Edits at all).

                3) If you want to place all images in Year folders for the years they were shot I suggest you do it before you import any images into LR.

                But you really don't have to do that as LR has a good search feature and can display all images shot in any given year using the Filter Bar.

                4) Don't know as I never rename image files unless I have sent it to PS and then saved it using Save As and given it a more descriptive file name.

                5) Yes and you can save them as either Presets or as LR defaults.

                LR has a feature to save Default settings by camera serial number.

                6) you can move and rename the LR Catalog file to any folder and name you like. I have LR installed on my D: drive and the catalog on the D: drive also. My catalog name is Lightroom 6 Catalog.lrcat in a folder called Lightroom 6 Catalog. You can also store the backups of the catalog file on any drive you like. I have mine being saved to my E: drive in a folder called Lightroom 6 Catalog backups.

                7) The LR catalog file must be on a local drive. It can't be stored on a network drive.

                8) Basically yes. The catalog file can be copied and used by any computer that is running LR no matter what the username is.

                9) Not that I know of or ever heard of.

                1 person found this helpful
                • 5. Re: I'm Considering Using Lighroom and Have Lots of Questions
                  Mike McCollister Level 1

                  I just wanted to thank you all for taking time out to answering my questions. Your answers have provided me some more things to think about. I'm not sure if I am ready to switch to Lightroom right now. We'll see.

                   

                  My main concern with Lightroom is that it seems to separate me too much from the file structure of the photos. I'll play around with the trial some more on my spare hard drive and see how things work.

                   

                  I wish that I could mark all of your answers as correct but I cannot do that.

                   

                  Again, thanks all for your responses.

                   

                  Mike

                  • 6. Re: I'm Considering Using Lighroom and Have Lots of Questions
                    dj_paige Level 9

                    Hello, https://forums.adobe.com/people/Mike%20McCollister

                     

                    My main concern with Lightroom is that it seems to separate me too much from the file structure of the photos.

                    Some people use Lightroom's Library Module as a replacement for the operating system's file browser, in other words, they only organize via folders. It works for them, it requires a certain amount of knowledge how to do this in Lightroom so you don't wind up with Lightroom thinking that it has missing photos. This also misses the fact that Lightroom wasn't really designed to be a file broswer, it is not a file browser, it has fewer features than a file browser, it has limitations that your file browser doesn't have; and that the real power of Lightroom is in the other organizing and search methods involving keywords and other metadata, and so many people (like me) don't really care what folder the photos are in, we don't remember, we don't search our folders, we don't even use our file browsers in our operating system to find our photos.

                     

                    In my opinion, if you don't want "to separate too much from the file structure of the photos", then you would be better off staying with Bridge. In your original post, you didn't say why you are looking at Lightroom, you didn't explain the benefits you'd like to get from Lightroom, you didn't give a reason why you want to change to Lightroom. Without knowing the answer to why you want to switch to Lightroom and what benefits you'd like to get from Lightroom, it's hard to advise you. However, it does sound like Bridge gives you everything you want. If that's not correct, please explain further.

                    1 person found this helpful
                    • 7. Re: I'm Considering Using Lighroom and Have Lots of Questions
                      Mike McCollister Level 1

                      DJ,

                       

                      Thanks again for your input.

                       

                      The main reason that I am looking into Lightroom is for faster editing. It is appealing to me to be able to make changes to photos without constantly open and close the photos in Camera Raw. I've seen videos on this workflow and it looks very good. However, I'm still not convinced that it is for me. I just have to do some more playing around.

                       

                      Regards,

                       

                      Mike

                      1 person found this helpful
                      • 8. Re: I'm Considering Using Lighroom and Have Lots of Questions
                        JimHess Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                        There are a few basic principles that you have to wrap your head around. And once you understand those I think Lightroom is very easy to use. When you import images to Lightroom you decide where on your computer they will be placed. It is best to import them and then leave them in place. Lightroom simply points to the images where they are located; they are not ingested into the Lightroom program. Another thing to remember is that Lightroom does not apply changes to the master images. Your master images are always in the pristine state they were in when they were first downloaded. All of the work that you do in Lightroom is stored in the catalog, which is a database. When an image is sent to Photoshop, if it is a raw image, it will always be necessary to save the Photoshop results to a new file that is returned to Lightroom. Photoshop cannot modify raw images. When you understand these and a few other basic ideas I think you will find Lightroom easy to use.

                        • 9. Re: I'm Considering Using Lighroom and Have Lots of Questions
                          Mike McCollister Level 1

                          Jim,

                           

                          Thanks for the clarification. I've had a pretty good understanding of the Lightroom catalog associated with the raw or original images.

                           

                          One concern that I have is the recommendation that I have received multiple times is that my directory structure should be set before I import the images. That should be fine for me now but I don't know what I might want to do 5 or 10 years from now.

                           

                          Still some more research and playing around for me to do.

                           

                          Thanks,

                           

                          Mike

                          • 10. Re: I'm Considering Using Lighroom and Have Lots of Questions
                            Mike McCollister Level 1

                            Conrad,

                             

                            Ouch! No string substitution in Lightroom batch rename. I'll have to consider that.

                             

                            Thanks for the heads up.

                             

                            Mike

                            • 11. Re: I'm Considering Using Lighroom and Have Lots of Questions
                              dj_paige Level 9

                              Mike McCollister wrote:

                               

                              Jim,

                               

                              Thanks for the clarification. I've had a pretty good understanding of the Lightroom catalog associated with the raw or original images.

                               

                              One concern that I have is the recommendation that I have received multiple times is that my directory structure should be set before I import the images. That should be fine for me now but I don't know what I might want to do 5 or 10 years from now.

                              Everything you say leads me to believe that you should stay with Bridge. In this forum, and in other forums, we see people who insist on organizing their way, and they usually wind up hating Lightroom and it's restrictions.


                              With regards to directory structure set before you import, I believe that means that the folders will have a very flat folder structure, with no metadata in the folder names except capture date. This is how I do it, my photos go in to folders that have no other naming than capture date. All other organization is done within Lightroom via keywords and other metadata, and with that, I have the flexibility to re-organize any way I want at any time I want, without moving photos or folders around. So 5 to 10 years from now, any organization that I choose to have, I can have, independent of the folder structure. This is how Lightroom was designed. (Although, honestly, pictures of my kids have keywords that are the kids' names, pictures of vacations have the vacation location as keyword and the names of the people in photos as keywords, and so on an so forth, it is impossible for me to imagine that I would want a different organization...)

                               

                              If you absolutely have to move folders around to achieve your organizational goals, then I strongly believe that Lightroom is not the right tool for you, Bridge is a much better tool for you.

                              1 person found this helpful
                              • 12. Re: I'm Considering Using Lighroom and Have Lots of Questions
                                Mike McCollister Level 1

                                DJ,

                                 

                                Thanks again for your comments. I am leaning towards sticking with Bridge. I might end up using Lightroom with the option to save the .xmp files for large photo shoots so that Bridge can see the changes.

                                 

                                Regards,

                                 

                                Mike