Solving Organizational Challenges in Lightroom 5

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Photographer and educator Tim Grey was invited to the B&H SuperStore’s Event Space to talk to customers about the file management challenges related to using the Adobe Lightroom software. In this 97-minute discussion, Grey shows us how to overcome common difficulties that many of us have when moving images, folders, and external drives around with our precious photos, by outlining common issues and presenting solutions. Grey says that many issues with Lightroom management come early on, when users prematurely jump into Lightroom head-first without a solid organizational plan. He also discusses the huge pitfalls that can occur if you place your images into Lightroom and then perform file management externally to the Lightroom software.

Starting with a clear explanation of the Lightroom catalog system, Grey discusses the why and when of backing up your Lightroom catalog before moving into analyzing specific challenges. He discusses setting up the metadata tab inside Lightroom to customize your Lightroom experience and he shows the audience how to save RAW image sidecar backup .XMP files to preserve metadata outside of the Lightroom files, before explaining the advantages and disadvantages of that option.

Grey gets into the details of what metadata is shared between editing and file-management programs like Adobe Bridge. Some metadata is Lightroom specific—not used by other programs. It is beneficial to be aware of what is attached to the files when they are viewed outside of Lightroom by other photo-editing software. Also, the way programs see the metadata information may be very different. For instance, Adobe Bridge and Adobe Lightroom see assigned image color labels completely differently. Also, “pick flags” in Lightroom are not recognized by Bridge and other software, but star ratings are.

Did you forget to change the time stamp on your camera when you traveled to Europe last year? Grey shows us how to manipulate the metadata to show the correct time you took a photograph. [My solution: I set my camera to GMT and never change it.]

What is the number one cause of missing photos in Lightroom? Grey tells us it's “The Photographer.” He then shows us how to locate missing files and folders and recover them back to the Lightroom catalog. Grey also discusses file and folder renaming before diving into the sometimes-controversial topic of Lightroom folder structure as he gives a few moments of discussion to both the location and date-driven Lightroom folder setups.

After discussing backup and synchronization options, Grey finishes his lecture with pointers and tips for photographers using multiple Lightroom catalogs and multiple hard drives.

Discussion 3

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Organizing Lightroom

This was an informtive session. One thing thatI don't know about is if I still have my camera mounted as a drive on my Windows computer, if Lightroom will move the images from the camera SD/CF to the computer's disk. What would happen if I reformat the SD or CF? My guess is that the photos would be lost. But I use the manufacturer's utility to move the images from the camera to the computer and then use Lightroom to import the images.

I started using Lightroom as a photographer using film (that stuff that digital is supposed to replace). As a software developer, I appreciate the database capabilities of Lightroom to manage the photographs. When I first started photography in 1980, I used a film filing labeling of YY-Roll (Year and a sequential film roll numbers). In 1980, Y2K was not a concern, so I used the last two digits of the year. I continue to do so since I know what century I shot the film in.

I would first recommend using good card reader to import your files instead of importing directly from your camera. With Lightroom 5 system's autoplay correctly configured, inserting the card into the reader will automatically launch Lightroom and open the Import dialog. This is not so easy to arrange when connecting a camera. If you are importing your images from a memory card, the ‘Import’ module gives you only 2 options. Either ‘Copy as DNG’ or ‘Copy.’ The other two options, ‘Move’ and ‘Add’ will not be accessible for you to choose when importing from a memory card. This is designed to force you to protect you in case you do accidently reformat your card after you have added the images to your library, but forgot to copy or move them to another location, like your internal drive or an external hard drive, for example.