or, The Care and Feeding of Your Lightroom Catalog
I first wrote this in December of 2011, and as we work with participants in our workshops, I am reminded that it is time to update and republish this blog. With Aperture no longer being supported by Apple, even more people are switching to Lightroom because of its amazing capabilities. And for those who want to get a leg-up in Lightroom, we are running our last Lightroom 5 workshop of 2014 in Death Valley in December. Get a cheap flight into Las Vegas, and join us!
So, why the cactus header? Lightroom can get what I call nudgy. It gets prickly and uncooperative. You do a normal task and get the most fascinating results, usually not at all what you wanted.
In my blog called Lightroom Setup, which I should probably update, too, I made some suggestions for setting up your preferences in Lightoom.
I have already made some revisions to this blog based on input from both our readers and Lightroom expert Rob Sylvan of the help desk at NAPP as well as his own Lightroomers.
This time, we’ll address what I call the care and feeding of your Lightroom catalog to keep it healthy.
Computers fail. Programs fail. So, it is not a question of if something will fail, rather when it will. Most of us have been through it. The information gets lost in the worst sand storm in recent decades, and it’s a long, dusty road getting everything back to the way we want it.
Backing up your information is critical to the health and survival of anyone owning a computer. For those who want to read more on this, go to my blog Backup, Backup, Backup.
Meanwhile, there are some things you can do and practices you can adopt to keep your Lightroom catalog working well.
First, for those who don’t know, something to remember is that Lightroom can almost be thought of as a browser with the capability of adding instructions to your image file as to how it should be processed. Your images are not “in” Lightroom; rather Lightroom can view thumbnails of your images and allow you to work on them. More properly, that work is actually creating a set of instructions for your images so that the next time they are processed, the results will be there. Just because you are not online at www.BCphotoadventures.com, for example, does not mean it doesn’t still exist. It’s there waiting for you the next time you access it through Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, etc. Similarly, even if your Lightroom catalog fails, your images are still exactly where you put them.
Because we are dealing with RAW files, we are not changing the files themselves, only the instructions for them such as your copyright information, Margo’s Tweaks, burning here, pumping up the saturation or contrast there, converting it into a black-and-white photo, adding or subtracting some luminence, etc.
As long as Lightroom is working, those instructions will be there for each image when you next open up the program. But if something goes awry? Unless you have saved your instructions — the work you have done on the image — to the image file itself, all could be lost. What to do?
Easy. Every time I import images onto my hard drive, simultaneously applying my copyright information and Margo’s Tweaks, I select All my images (on Macs, CMD-A, and on PCs, CTRL-A), and Save them all (CTRL-S / CMD-S). Then I Deselect them all (CMD-D / CTRL-D), as noted in the previous blog.
Remember, do NOT do that CMD-D or CTRL-D in any other program. You may delete things that you wish to keep!!!
Now, at the very least, all my copyright metadata and preliminary tweaks are saved with the image files themselves.
After that, every time I work on an image, I do a CTRL-S / CMD-S. That way, even though the history steps may be lost in a Lightroom or computer meltdown, the end results of all those instructions will be there the next time I access the image, and I can go back and tweak those adjustments even more.
Now, let’s go to some practices that will reduce the chance of Lightroom going south. In that Continue reading