Lightroom Setup

20 Dec
 

Originally published December 2011, updated December 19, 2015 (followers have been making good suggestions and asking germane questions.)  Also a suggestion from Rob Sylvan of both NAPP and his own Lightroomers.com.

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Adobe Photoshop Lightroom — more commonly known simply as “Lightroom” — is an amazingly intuitive program to use. That is why we use it for teaching in our workshops. We have some recommended settings for Lightroom that may make your life easier in the long run. While this is written for those who are using the latest version, the same principles may be applied to 2.x.

It should be noted that these are suggestions that work for us.  Others may find settings that work better for them.  And in another blog, we have written about maintaining the health of your Lightroom catalog in The Care and Feeding of Your Lightroom Catalog.

Many who come to our workshops call or e-mail in a panic, because they have bought a new computer, or the old one crashed, and they lost their setup, Margo’s Tweaks, and other presets. The following is what works well for us. It may serve as a useful guideline for others.

Except for a very few instances, Mac’s CMD and PC’s CTRL do the same thing, so if you see CMD (Command), you know I am referring to you Mac users, and for CTRL (Control), PCers.

Start by going to your Preferences (Lightroom > Preferences for Mac, Edit > Preferences for PC). Make sure the General tab is selected, and copy the settings below, except for Completion Sounds which is a matter of personal choice. Under the Import Options, I do not check off the box beside Show import dialog when a memory card is detected, because Lightroom has an annoying habit of coming up whenever you plug something into one of your USB ports.

© 2015 Margo Taussig Pinkerton. All Rights Reserved. From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures. For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC 27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

Under Import Options, for those who use folders in their camera, you may want to consider checking the box for Ignore camera-generated folder names when naming folders.  Since we never use different folders in our cameras, this is a non-issue for us.

At the bottom of the window above is a section called Catalog Settings. Click on Go to Catalog Settings, and the following window will pop up:

© 2015 Margo Taussig Pinkerton. All Rights Reserved. From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures. For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC 27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

Again, match the settings above, except for the Location field. Yours will look different depending upon where you choose to store your Lightroom catalog. If this is Greek or Sanskrit to you, don’t worry, we’ll help you at one of our workshops, and meanwhile, just use the default setting.

We are hyper about saving our work on images to the files themselves.  This will be covered in the next blog, but for those of you who do not do this regularly, you may want to consider in the Backup section selecting the option Every time Lightroom exits.

Because we travel so often, Arnie and I do not store our catalogs on our computers. Instead, each of us stores both images and personal catalog on a couple of pocket-sized, 2TB or 3TB external drives that are backed up numerous times at home as well as at least once on the road for new files.

When we are at home, we plug these hard drives into our desktop computers, when on the road, into our laptops. That way, neither the catalog nor settings change, and we do not have to worry about transferring things back and forth between computers, especially if we assign the same drive letter to the external drive from both the laptop and the desktop. Does that sound like Chinese to you? Just check with your computer guru who can easily do the same for you.

Now click on the File Handling tab and make sure your settings match the ones below.
© 2015 Margo Taussig Pinkerton. All Rights Reserved. From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures. For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC 27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

Those 1:1 previews can hog a lot of memory, which is why we discard them after a day. If you need them again, they come up quickly enough.

The next step is to select the Metadata tab, and once again, mimic the settings as shown below.

© 2015 Margo Taussig Pinkerton. All Rights Reserved. From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures. For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC 27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

The reason for not checking that third box (Automatically write changes into XMP) is that if you have inadvertently made changes to a whole bunch of images at once, done some more post-processing work, then realize what you mistakenly did, all those unintended changes have been saved to your files, and you are past the point of being able to do an undo (CMD-Z or CTRL-Z).

Instead, when your import is completed, we recommend getting into the habit of selecting All (CTRL-A or CMD-A) your images in Library module, Grid view, and Saving all (CMD-S or CTRL-S) when you first import your images. That way, your copyright information and Margo’s Tweaks or other presets will not be lost if your catalog fails. Remember, with computers, it’s never a matter of if they will fail, only a matter of when. Then, be sure to do a CMD-D or CTRL-D to Deselect all so you won’t apply your next change to all your images! But NEVER do that CMD-D or CTRL-D in any other program.  You will not care for the results (can delete things)!

Now, press the OK button that will return you to that initial General tab we saw in the first screen shot towards the beginning of this blog. If for some reason it does not, just get back into the Preferences, as you did above. Now click on the Presets tab and make yours match as shown below.

© 2015 Margo Taussig Pinkerton. All Rights Reserved. From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures. For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC 27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

We do not check Apply auto tone adjustments, because we shoot for effect, as we did in our commercial lives, and we do not want any program to override the effect we were creating at the time of shooting.

Why do we store our presets with the catalog? Simple. If the catalog gets moved to another computer, you don’t have to search for all those wonderful presets you made — the ones you made for your copyright, Margo’s Tweaks, exports, web layouts, import dialogues, etc., etc.  That said, I apparently have stored my presets where my Lightroom catalog can always find them.  That is not true for everyone.

Rob Sylvan, NAPP Help Desk guru and master of his own website Lightroomers.com, wrote me with a suggested modification:

I just read through your blog post on preference settings and thought I’d pass along one thing that I’ve encountered quite a bit. When you check the Store presets with catalog box Lightroom simply creates a set of default presets in a folder alongside the catalog file and then references those. This is fine if you have no custom presets/templates, but for anyone with any custom presets/templates it will seem as though all of their custom stuff has vanished.

It would be so much more helpful if Lightroom also copied all the custom bits over, but since it doesn’t that has to be done manually.

So, for anyone with custom presets that they want to store with the catalog

  • Before checking Store presets with catalog, click the Show Lightroom Presets Folder button to open Finder/Windows Explorer with the Lightroom folder containing all presets/templates;
  • Leave that window open and return to Lightroom’s preferences;
  • Now check the Store presets with catalog box (this results in the new folder alongside the catalog with the default presets being created);
  • Click that Show Lightroom Presets Folder button again, and now it will open the new folder;
  • Copy/paste any custom presets/templates from the original folder to the respective folder in the new location

A little confusing to read, but it should get the job done. 🙂

Glad to hear your catalog has been behaving. Long may it remain so.

Thanks, Rob, for this important suggestion!

External Editing is the next tab, and you know what to do if you have done a lot of photo processing before.

If you do not, don’t worry about the program name at the top in the Edit in [xyz] section or in the Additional External Editor section. In our workshops, we talk about that.

For those who do have other imaging options, in the second section, select the programs that you most often use for additional editing. You can see my selections, but when there are plug-ins, I have other options always at my disposal, even if they are not listed in this section.

© 2015 Margo Taussig Pinkerton. All Rights Reserved. From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures. For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC 27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

It should be noted here that ProPhoto RGB is the default color space for Lightroom. If I am going to go to nik Silver Efex Pro, or AutoPano Pro, or Photomatix, etc., I want to stick with the same color profile. Remember, you can always convert to a lesser profile, but you can never go back up! Our philosophy is that with the amazing dSLR cameras that we have, we want to maximize the digital image information and potential available to us. Again, we can downsize, but once downsized, we can never go back up.

The File Handling tab is pretty easy, as you can pretty much leave everything in the default setting, even if it does not match my screen shot below.

© 2015 Margo Taussig Pinkerton. All Rights Reserved. From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures. For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC 27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

But what about that lower-case dng extension? ALL CAPS IS ACTUALLY HARDER TO READ THAN Upper and Lower Case Letters. I worked for a well-known publishing house many eons ago, and I learned that quickly. That lower-case extension will help you separate it from your file name.

Why don’t we embed the original raw file into the dng file?  Most fellow pros we know do not either.  Your dng file is now your raw file.  Unless you are using your camera manufacturers’ imaging program, usually abominably and painfully slow, most of us don’t need our NEF, CR2, etc. original raw file that contains extra information so that you can use their imaging software.

Next, we come to the Interface tab which you can leave as is.

© 2015 Margo Taussig Pinkerton. All Rights Reserved. From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures. For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC 27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

And finally, there is the new Performance tab. Some computers might not like the box checked as shown below, but we can discuss that in our Lightroom workshops.

© 2015 Margo Taussig Pinkerton. All Rights Reserved. From Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures. For usage and fees, please e-mail TBC (at) BCphotoadventures (dot) com or contact us at 310 Lafayette Drive, Hillsborough, NC 27278 or at 919-643-3036 before 9 p.m. Eastern Time, ET.

The last two tabs are items you can address on your own if you use Lightroom Mobile.

Your Lightroom program is set up and ready to go. Congratulations! Minor tweaks to this we can address for those who join us in our workshops.

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12 Responses to “Lightroom Setup”

  1. Nathan Dean 01-14-12 at 10:54 AM #

    Margo, I know that ProPhoto RGB is the widest gamut color space, but my Nikon D700 only offers sRGB and Adobe RGB. Since you can’t convert to the higher gamut, is there a reason to choose Prophoto for external editing?

    A perhaps related question: a colleague in my master class group suggested that I update the Nikon firmware for my D700, which might add ProPhoto RGB as an option. You’ve never mentioned upgrading the firmware; is that something you recommend, and might it add ProPhoto?

    Dave, would welcome your comments on that too!

    Nat

     
    • TBC 01-16-12 at 7:34 PM #

      Nat,

      Excellent question. I use ProPhoto RGB, because that is the native color space for Lightroom, and I suspect it won’t be long before our cameras catch up. Meanwhile, it keeps things consistent in my workflow. No point exporting into, say, CS5 as Adobe RGB 1998 or sRGB, then bringing it back into ProPhoto RGB.

      As to upgrading firmware, it is something everyone should do. You can sign up for announcements of new firmware releases with your camera manufacturer. As to what any new releases contain, I do not know. I suspect that it will be a new model of camera with an even better sensor that will determine ProPhoto RGB, and not firmware.

      Take care, and thanks for writing,

      TBC

       
    • David L. Robertson 01-16-12 at 11:48 PM #

      Nat:
      You should always have the most recent firmware for your camera loaded. In the case of the D700, your firmware should be version 1.02. Go to this site and you can see what was changed in this release: http://support.nikonusa.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/16657/~/d700-firmware%3A-a%2Fb-1.02. While it is possible to expand the color space through firmware, it is more likely, as Margo stated, that this will happen sometime in the future with a new camera model. It was not made part of the Nikon D4 that was just released, so there may be issues related to sensor capabillity that doesn’t yet allow that color space. Another possibility is that ProPhoto needs 16 bit images in order to avoid possible posterization and jpegs can only be 8 bit. As we all know, the image we see on the camera’s LCD is a jpeg version of the captured image, so using ProPhoto RGB as the color space for the LCD image could appear very badly if rendered with that color space. Best wishes, Dave

       
      • TBC 01-18-12 at 12:40 PM #

        Thanks, Dave, for your always thoughtful input. And I’m glad you reinforced the need to keep your camera’s firmware always current.

        Take care,

        TBC

         
  2. George Dalsheimer 12-22-11 at 10:00 AM #

    Thanks, Margo, for the LR set up information as it made me review all of my settings. Like Dave, I wondered about the ppi setting; mine is 300.

    I do recommend backing up LR every time you exit the application. I had two hard drives fail last month and was very glad that all of my information was backed up. My images are stored on external hard drives, which are backed up to other external hard drives each week. The Lightroom catalogue is located on one of the external hard drives. I have thought about making an additional backup of the catalogue to Dropbox but have not done that yet.

    The only other comment I would add has to do with printing from LR. First one needs to calibrate the monitor. Then I find that the exposure needs to be increased by .5 to 1.5 stops. Getting the correct exposure can be a bit daunting. I use Museo paper which is expensive and have found that I can use the thin interleaf as a test for exposure without using the real photo paper. Epson and HP also make presentation paper which is useful for trial purposes. If others use a different technique or different paper, I would love to hear about it.

     
    • TBC 12-22-11 at 11:12 AM #

      You are welcome, George. I am so glad that you got everything straightened out after that last drive disaster. Fortunately, you had already been really good about backups which stood you in really good stead.

      Regarding backups, I always backup the catalog when I create new presets or virtual copies. Otherwise, the fact that I always save any work right away to the image file itself is a backup of its own. Personally, I don’t care about the history, as long as the end results are there. But that is a personal preference, and backing up more rather than less will never be a bad thing. Better safe than sorry, as the old saying goes.

      As to calibrating your monitor, it is something everyone should do, and not just for printing. Those International standards help make sure that what you see on your calibrated screen is what others will see on their screens … as long as they have calibrated their monitors, too.

      Take care, and great tip about the thin interleaf as a test.

      TBC

       
  3. David Robertson 12-21-11 at 2:01 PM #

    Margo:
    As usual, your blog is very informational and useful. I have a question for you on a couple of your preferences.

    With regard to Import Options, is there a reason to not check the box to ignore camera-generated folder names? My experience is that these folder names are of no value when creating an image organization hierarchy.

    The other question relates to resolution. You have set resolution at 360 ppi for export to Photoshop and AutoPano Pro. Obviously, there is no “right” answer for this, but I am curious as to how you arrived at this resolution. Some believe that it should be set at 240 ppi, which is the “native” resolution used by Lightroom. Others believe it should be set at a resolution that relates to the printer being used. Printers have “native” resolutions. For example, it is 720 ppi for the Epson R2400, 360 ppi for the Epson 3800, and 300 ppi for the HP B9180. Sending an image to one of these printers at a resolution different than the native resolution for that printer works, but the printer driver will resample the image to the native resolution. Resampling in such cases can introduce unwanted artifacts to the final print. What are your thoughts? Thanks as always, Dave

     
    • TBC 12-21-11 at 2:41 PM #

      Interesting questions and comments, as always, Dave.

      Some things are really up to the way the individual photographer handles his/her workflow, but your comment on the camera-generated folder names merits a revision of the blog. Since I never use those folders, I forget they exist, which is not good for those who do use them.

      I have always used 360 ppi as my default, Yes, Lightroom’s native resolution is 240 ppi, but when we are processing images in another program, they are usually destined for printing.

      Rightly or wrongly, I have always used the 360 ppi resolution for our R2400, and when we print on our friend’s 7800, he also recommends using that 360 ppi resolution. He, like you, has done workshops with Sexton and others, and his own prints have been in at least one museum and several exhibitions.

      You are a techie person, and while I am pretty computer savvy, I do not consider myself a techie at your level. All I can say is that we know what works in the final product for us with our printers and ICC profiles, and for whatever reason, we have not found any unwanted artifacts. I cannot tell you why not. But those reading your comments may decide that the 240 ppi setting is more appropriate for them. Whatever each person uses, I would suggest running some comparison tests to see what works best for each individual.

      Meanwhile, I will do some research and comment back here.

      Again, thanks for your always-thoughtful comments.

      Take care,

      TBC

       
      • David L. Robertson 12-21-11 at 5:20 PM #

        Thanks Margo. Given the great strides in resampling algorithms the last few years, the concern about creating unwanted artifacts when resampling at other than the native resolution (or integer multiples thereof) may not be the issue it once was. Thanks for being so generous with your knowledge and experience. It has certainly improved my photography. Best wishes, Dave

         
        • TBC 12-21-11 at 5:32 PM #

          Dave,

          Thank YOU! You do a lot of research, so I could never dismiss your input. In fact, I have already adjusted the blog based on your input.

          And it is always fun shooting with you, whether just us three or in a workshop situation. We love watching your work grow. It’s been, what, five years now?

          Take care,

          TBC

           
          • Dave Robertson 12-23-11 at 8:56 PM #

            It was October 2007 when I attended my first workshop with you and Arnie in New England, and February 2012 in Costa Rica will be workshop number 5, and counting!

             
            • TBC 12-23-11 at 9:40 PM #

              OK, Dave, four years, but five autumns! Glad you’re still counting!

              Take care,

              TBC

               

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