The Lightroom catalog

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is built atop a database architecture that relies on a centralized catalog to house information about your still images and video files.

One of the most common questions I'm asked about Adobe Photoshop Lightroom from new (and sometimes not so new) users is, 'Why do you have to import photos to the catalog first before you are able to edit them?' The answer to this question goes right to the heart of Lightroom's approach to information storage and retrieval, which to my mind more adequately addresses the needs of today's photographer. In this article I'll lay out the basic principles of image management in Lightroom and explain how this approach can actually make the task of locating your images more efficient.

Image browser vs. database manager

As computer users who've come of age during the PC revolution, we have grown accustomed to the idea that everything needs to be sorted into folders, and indeed folder hierarchies have become the primary means of organization. This file directory management approach may make sense with task-specific Word documents but becomes extremely limiting when applied to large collections of less easily-defined images. Yet this is exactly how image browser software, like Adobe Bridge operate. For all their admittedly useful features, they simply browse the existing folder structure on your hard drive.

And my chief complaint about sorting images by folders is the very real problem of determining just which folder they should go in. Someone once told me about an underwater photographer who maintained a small photo library of his work. When adding new transparencies, he would have dupes made so that a photograph of say, a diver with a shark could be filed in one set of physical folders labeled ‘sharks’, another named ‘divers’ and another broken down by ‘location’. This physical duplication was necessary in order to make the library system work effectively, but no one would call it efficient. Yet there are people who work this way with digital files precisely because they are not using a database-driven management system.

Here is an example of an underwater photo (in this instance a photo shot by Jeff Schewe). It makes sense to categorize this by the location it was shot in, the presence of a diver, as well as the coral featured in the foreground. In the folder-based example I mentioned above this could involve duplicating the master image several times. Using digital asset management software such as Phase One Media Pro or Lightroom, however, there is no need to create physical duplicates.

I can't count the number of times I have sat through a seminar where the instructor has come unstuck when relying on folder/browser navigation to locate their demo files. Meanwhile, the audience waits impatiently while the instructor sifts through a complex hierarchy structure of folders known only to himself. Sound familiar?

Database management programs designed specifically for photographs were developed to tame such chaos. One of the first and most well-known was iView Media Pro. The company behind it was acquired, first by Microsoft which renamed it Expression Media, but is now developed by Phase One and sold as Phase One Media Pro. Extensis Portfolio was another option available, but it was the launch in 2005 of Aperture from Apple that showed how one could combine the power of a database with image editing tools to provide an all-in-one solution for photographers. Adobe's entry, in the form of Lightroom, launched soon after.

Point a browser-based app like Adobe Bridge (shown here) at a folder on your hard drive and you'll see everything that’s on the computer. By contrast, the Lightroom Import dialog, pointed at the same folder, only shows the three JPEGs files located there.

What all these database-driven apps have in common is that you have to explicitly import media files into the program, adding them to an app-specific catalog, which is the primary holder of all your image data. This process, while it may seem an unnecessary step, is required in order to build a catalog of files made up exclusively of the images and videos you have deemed relevant. One under-appreciated aspect of the import process is that when you select a directory containing many different types of data, i.e., music files, spreadsheets or Word documents, the software filters out any file formats it does not support. This can work to your advantage as you only see the files you'd actually consider working with and don't have to bother wading through irrelevant files.

Metadata: Your new best friend

Instead of relying on a folder structure to sort your images you can manage your photos much more effectively by using keyword and EXIF metadata. Metadata - literally data about your data - is vital to managing any collection of digital files. In fact, placing an image inside a descriptively named folder amounts to a very rudimentary type of metadata; an identifier that can be used to help locate the data stored in that folder.

Keywords

Keywording is a very robust form of user-generated metadata that allows you to apply multiple descriptive tags to an individual file. Let’s return to the underwater photographer example I mentioned earlier. This guy could choose to replicate his film library system by placing duplicate image files in multiple folders that could be read by a file browser. With a database-driven cataloging program, however, he would only need to import one master image and then use the cataloging software to append multiple keyword metadata tags to identify the image. With a program like Lightroom it is fairly easy to create varied collections of photos in which multiple instances of a single master photo appear in more than one collection. No files are duplicated on your hard drive. The single master image is simply referenced multiple times by the catalog. Edit that master image later on, say by converting it from color to BW, and the new version is automatically propagated in every collection. That's about as close to a free lunch as you'll get.

Here is a photo of a male model I shot in Italy. My Lightroom catalog contains only a single master file but the image belongs to five separate collections (virtual folders). You can't do this in a folder-based management system without creating duplicates, or at least aliases, of the original digital file.

Crucially, once you start getting into the habit of tagging your photos with metadata, it then becomes easier to find them. Imagine trying to locate an image on someone else’s computer using a folder browsing method only. You could start by looking inside the My Pictures folder, but where would you look next? For that matter how successful are you at navigating your own Pictures folder? We have all struggled at times to locate a specific file that we know is on the computer system somewhere.

An extensive keyword list makes it very easy to filter the Lightroom grid to show specific images grouped together, even if their master files reside in separate folders or even hard drives. As an alternative to scrolling down a long list of keywords, Lightroom offers a search box (shown in red). As you type, Lightroom automatically filters the list to include potential keyword matches.

With keywording the task becomes simple. If you know how to do a Google search you already know how to search by metadata. In my opinion, this is where the database/catalog method of managing your image library makes your life much easier.

This photograph of a pagoda building was photographed in Victoria Park, close to the London Olympic Stadium (My, how this park has changed prior to the Olympics coming to town!)
Looking at the Keywording panel in Lightroom you can see a list of all the keyword metadata that I manually added to the above photo. The more keywords you add to individual photos, the easier it will be to retrieve them when carrying out a photo search.

Click here to continue reading our Lightroom Catalog article...

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.

Comments

Total comments: 315
12
Opinionator
By Opinionator (Mar 27, 2013)

2 bad Adobe can't do what most object oriented programs do. Oh wait. They do build their architecture atop of native file structures. But they insist on pointing to their own db instead of the native one because it forces u to rely on their catalogs. They can still use pointers to their db but somehow this wouldn't impress users who rn't tech savvy. Why should I be able to rely on one system when Adobe can force me to rely only on theirs? Sounds like Bill Gates. Well one of these days Adobe db programmers may find out they're not really geniuses at all. They've merely reinvented the wheel and put another layer of pointers on top. You won't agree if u like catalogs because u don't understand them and don't get all up in my face about how great Adobe is.

0 upvotes
Daniel Neuman
By Daniel Neuman (Jan 13, 2013)

This is actually about capture time metadata. I have two sets of catalogs. One is a master catalog holding about 135,000 images. Then I have separate single catalogs going back to 1999 for digital and a separate one for scans.

This has always worked fairly well, but occasionally I find that in my master catalog the capture time metadata has changed unaccountably for a group of photos. Has this happened to anyone else?

My main box is a PC, but I run LR on two Macs as well. All my photos are stored and back-upped in a NAS.

0 upvotes
AndyW17
By AndyW17 (Jan 12, 2013)

Does anyone know if you can search a LR 4 catalog to find ONLY those pictures that DO have edits applied? I'm trying to sort through a large catalog to find ONLY the images with edits. Is this possible, and if so - how do you search the catalog select them? Thanks

0 upvotes
pixelized
By pixelized (Jan 5, 2013)

AD in KC :

This is a feature that Adobe should add. With my DAM app at work I can do a "move file" within the catalog to a new location and keep all links and metadata valid. A possbile work-around is not pretty, but not terrible.

Create your new storage folder on the Drobo drive and import that into the LR catalog. Select the images you wish to move. Click the image area of one of them, NOT the gray border, and drag them to the newly created folder in the LR directory structure on the left side of the LR app window. You should get a message about the files being moved. They will now reside only in the new Drobo folders and also remain in the LR catalog with all image modifications and metadata intact.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
AD in KC
By AD in KC (Jan 4, 2013)

OK I am an old dog and struggle with change. I understand from previous posts that LR can sync with my old folder system, and that sounds reassuring. But I edit stuff from my local hard drive and then move everything (in that project) to a relatively slow Drobo for storage. My worry that is moving stuff around in folders will cause LR to freak out and lose track...

0 upvotes
DONT BUY AN HPB9180 PRINTER

Yes Lightroom will lose them. You will only see a thumbnail placeholder image. Next to that image in the library tab, will show a greyed out folder question mark next to the image and folder. You won't be able to do anything with that image unless you reimport them. You need to right click that folder and redirect it to the new folder on your drive that you moved it to. Click on "find missing folder" and select the folder you want to direct Lightroom to.

1 upvote
mwfn
By mwfn (Jan 4, 2013)

Good article. Although I know the advantage of a database I am not so sure about how robust Light room is when managing >100000 images. I essentially do what Bryan Costin also describes, keep my clearly organized folder structure but also throw the stuff I want into the LR database. However, I do notice a considerable slowing down of archiving and browsing and general handling of LR with that many images.

Is there a known limit up to which it is considered safe to keep images in one catalogue? I know of professional photographers that they make many smaller catalogues for each client, project etc.

Thanks

Markus

0 upvotes
PhotoKhan
By PhotoKhan (Jan 3, 2013)

There's a big confusion in this article, that will not help first time users of LR.

Folder structiring is folder structuring and metadata is metadata.

They can co-exist and certainly have intrinsic advantages and limitations but they don't replace each other. I don't know of any photographer who simply dumps all his files a single folder and then relies simply on metadata keywording.

LR, for one, was not conceptualized that way. That's why it has a "Library" module with a left panel displaying the folder structure for the photos imported into the catalog being used.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
Bryan Costin
By Bryan Costin (Jan 2, 2013)

LR has a fair number of annoying flaws and omissions (support for catalogs on network drives) but I don't understand the angst about the LR catalog. If you prefer to work with folders you can pretty much ignore the catalog and just think of it as Lightroom's way of caching thumbnail images.

I have years of archived images now on a NAS, sorted into a complex folder hierarchy which I have no intention of changing. I just pointed LR to the folder tree and told it to Add the contents to the catalog, leaving them images exactly where they are. It indexes the existing EXIF and keyword data and I can easily navigate the directory tree in LR. Or out of LR.

For new images, I usually allow LR to directly import and copy the files from my CF/SD card into a date-stamped folder on my NAS. Or, if I feel like it, I can copy files manually to an existing branch of my hierarchy, and tell LR to sync that folder. Either way the photos are right where I put them.

Comment edited 25 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
pixelatorcw
By pixelatorcw (Jan 2, 2013)

That pretty much summarizes how I use LR myself. IMO it's an excellent tool for editing, so I can live with the weaknesses.

0 upvotes
RPJG
By RPJG (Jan 2, 2013)

If I am travelling, and cataloguing and editing on my laptop, what do I need to do when exporting the laptop-catalog and images to my main home PC (which has the "main" LR catalog)?

Do I need to have the same folder structure on both devices? If not, what steps do I need to follow?

0 upvotes
pixelatorcw
By pixelatorcw (Jan 2, 2013)

Have a look at:
http:/cazillo.com/articles/37-photography/124-multiple-catalogs-in-adobe-lightroom.html

1 upvote
RPJG
By RPJG (Jan 2, 2013)

Cheers :-)

0 upvotes
wildplaces
By wildplaces (Jan 1, 2013)

Truth is that if the LR Catalog were intuitive and useful for us, we wouldn't need to reminded to use it! I do use it, but find the GUI clunky and tedious to use, despite the remembered keywords and metadata sets. I think iMatch (mentioned by others here) was easier to use in some ways. I look forward to imrprovements in the database GUI in future versions of LR.

1 upvote
Fixx
By Fixx (Jan 1, 2013)

I find LR to be very useful and efficient tool for photo management and editing. For management part I wish it could write keywords to RAW header. They would be universally searchable that way. Of course within LR it should use its own database for speed reasons.

In export LR seems to write some metadata to images though I am not sure if it includes keywords (it should). I can find title and description (in Finder show info and in Quick Look/SneakPeek Photo) which in my case contain most of the same information. Very useful when you need to access already exported files in Finder. Command-F finds them immediately.

As for folder structures... I use folders which are by shoots and named accordingly. Generally I access latest jobs by folders but anything older I access by keywords. No substitute for that after a few years of photo accumulation.

0 upvotes
mick232
By mick232 (Jan 1, 2013)

How does the catalog handle the following situations:

1. Backup/restore of a subset of images including the settings?
2. Moving or deleting a subset of images outside of LR?
3. Preview of raw files on SD card without actually editing them yet?

0 upvotes
pixelatorcw
By pixelatorcw (Jan 1, 2013)

mick232: Answering each of those questions require a blog post each. I'll respond to question 1 with the way I handle it myself:

- I keep full backup of my complete image collections (around 50.000 'final' high-resolution JPEGs, around 10.000 'original' RAW files) in no less than 5 physically separate places.

- I use two top level directories (one for originals, one for final JPEGs) and under this file directories on the form YYYY_MM_DD_description_of_event.

- I copy RAW images from the memory cards using LR import functions, and at the same time rename the files and convert the proprietary RAW files to DNG format.

- I use the "automatically write changes into XMP" setting for the LR catalog, meaning all editing will also be added as XMP metadata to the DNG files (in addition to being stored in the LR catalog).

Using this setup, copy/restore of complete subdirectories (i.e., all images from a photoshoot/event) across computers works extremely well.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
pixelatorcw
By pixelatorcw (Jan 1, 2013)

mick232: One more comment: Using this setup you do not need to worry to much about the integrity vs. possible corruption of the LR catalog. The LR database can be rebuilt (also on a different computer) from the information captured in the image files themselves.

There are (as far as I know) only two LR features that will not be supported by this setup:

- Virtual copies (i.e. differently edited 'versions' of the same underlying image without physically creating a copy).
- LR collections that cross file catalog boundaries for the underlying image storage.

To me, this is quite OK. LR collections can be created 'on the fly' through selecting combination of metadata, and you can always avoid the virtual copy issue by creating physical copies instead.

From LR's export function I create the 'final' JPEGs that are stored in the other main directory. I use these 'final' JPEGs for web upload and exchange with other applications. E.g. Picasa for upload to Google+/Picasa web album.

0 upvotes
graybalanced
By graybalanced (Jan 2, 2013)

>1. Backup/restore of a subset of images including the settings?

If you organized the images as as Collection, simply export the collection as a new catalog with just those images. If you want the images and the edit settings but no catalog, export that subset as DNG raw.

To restore, just open the catalog or import the DNG files.

>2. Moving or deleting a subset of images outside of LR?
You can move or delete from within LR, but if you want to move outside LR, LR will lose track of the file path. You can re-establish the path to a moved folder using Update Folder Location. If deleted outside LR, just delete it inside LR when it complains about it being missing.

>3. Preview of raw files on SD card without actually editing them yet?
The Import dialog provides previews before import, to aid in selecting which to import. I have used this frequently when all I want to work on are 1 image or 5 images but not the whole card. I visually ID the ones I want and only import them.

No big deal.

0 upvotes
DONT BUY AN HPB9180 PRINTER

For moving or even changing names outside of LR, this is my response to another poster.

Yes Lightroom will lose them. You will only see a thumbnail placeholder image. Next to that image in the library tab, will show a greyed out folder question mark next to the image and folder. You won't be able to do anything with that image unless you reimport them. You need to right click that folder and redirect it to the new folder on your drive that you moved it to. Click on "find missing folder" and select the folder you want to direct Lightroom to.

0 upvotes
mick232
By mick232 (Jan 8, 2013)

Sounds extremely cumbersome.

All of the above operations would be normal file system operations when no catalog is being used, i.e. they can be done using any file utility, can be scripted, automated, etc.

0 upvotes
Sean Nelson
By Sean Nelson (Jan 1, 2013)

This article seems to put a lot of weight in the ability to categorize photos and find them by keywords. But you don't need Lightroom or other image management software to do that - all you need to do is to tag the files with the appropriate keywords and then let Windows (or, I assume, the Mac OS) index them. For the number of times I have to search my 10,000+ images I find Windows search to be plenty quick enough (around 10 seconds or so, and that's with it's index on a hard drive instead of my SSD). And you don't need to worry about proprietary databases because once your files are tagged then any software that supports the standard image file tags can index the files for you.

Comment edited 45 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (Jan 1, 2013)

If a software is good, the maker would not try to keep on selling and plugging it, years down the track...

If a software is bad, people will not buy, will stop using it, will complain, will move on to better pastures...

Stop using "marketing spin doctors" to sell crap software.

Make NEW great software.

.

3 upvotes
EssexAsh
By EssexAsh (Dec 31, 2012)

can you put a catalog on a network drive yet so that multiple devices can connect in to it?

0 upvotes
pixelatorcw
By pixelatorcw (Jan 1, 2013)

The short answer: No, you can't.

The longer answer: Technically you can put the catalog on a network drive by fooling Lightroom to 'think' it is on a local drive. But Lightroom is based on a single-user, single-application database system (SQLite), which is fully 'embedded' into its host application (LR). If you attempt to update this database (i.e., the .lrcat file) from two workstations simultaneously, you will very likely corrupt the database, possibly in a way where it cannot be recovered. Even a networked based access from a single workstation with a single application (LR) may corrupt the database, as SQLite does not support the right locking mechanisms for network file systems.

Think of the Lightroom catalog as the internal and proprietary storage structure for the Lightroom application. It was never designed to work as a multi-user, muliti-application digital asset management system. But it's an excellent editing tool for handling multiple (RAW) images in a single operation!

1 upvote
jboyer
By jboyer (Jan 1, 2013)

Well explained. I would not consider SQLite as a strong contender for multiuser applications. One can develop locking mechanisms for it, though, within the internal to the application, like Capture One is now doing with the same db, I believe.

There is a market for a well designed, multi user database system for storing and cataloguing pictures and other media. I am still looking. One of its features could be storing various metadata, depending on the application used to create it (like XMP for LT or CO for Capture One.)

Thanks for your information.

0 upvotes
Thauglor
By Thauglor (Dec 31, 2012)

I don't believe Lightroom's catalog feature is adequate, or appropriate for my needs. I bought LR3 for some of its editing capabilities... distortion correction as an example.

It's terribly frustrating that LR won't allow me to simply "open" a photo, edit and save as I see fit.

I understand that the catalog is very nice for a lot of folks, but there's no 'good' reason, that we shouldn't have the capability to also simply 'open' a file without adding it to the catalog.

We should have the option. There's no real excuse for it, IMO.

I expect that Adobe's business model is designed to be as inclusive and proprietary a system as possible to "lock-in" the customer.

If you dig the cataloging that's fine... no argument, but really, is there a good reason anyone can think of to PROHIBIT the user from editing one file on the fly if they want to ?

Comment edited 50 seconds after posting
11 upvotes
ddolde
By ddolde (Dec 31, 2012)

Amen brother !

1 upvote
Skip
By Skip (Dec 31, 2012)

ditto

1 upvote
MadsR
By MadsR (Dec 31, 2012)

Uhm, the editing capabilities is the same as in camera raw afaik? But if it is only for editing why did you buy Lightroom? That is like using Access to edit document files, it is not the tool for the job at hand.

2 upvotes
ddolde
By ddolde (Dec 31, 2012)

Not the same as ACR. Lightroom has more tricks than ACR alone

1 upvote
RPJG
By RPJG (Jan 2, 2013)

Sure they should allow you to just open and edit, but you can just import your batch of photos to a catalog, flag and edit to your heart's content, export the resulting JPEGs, and then simply ignore the catalog. It only wastes a few seconds at the start of the process.

0 upvotes
gabbes
By gabbes (Jan 2, 2013)

Couldn't agree more! I hate any software to force my hand to do anything I don't need.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Imajez
By Imajez (Jan 10, 2013)

ACR+LR develop module are the same, albeit LR's interface being however much way more ergonomic. So if you do not like using a database, use ACR + Bridge which fundamentally is a [clunky] File Browser version of LR with less features-like book or map module. BTW I should point out I was a big user of Br until LR got its act together and left it trailing in the dust.

I think the issue here is many people do not grok how a database works and try to use it like a file browser. All my images in Year/month/day/date-description folders and all are in LR too. In fact LR imports my images nicely into date folders, which saves me time particularly if unloading off phone or pocket camera which may have a stacks of dates with images on. So LR creates a neat file+folder system and then uses a database to allow you to find stuff really easily, particularly if you use, ratings, keywords + collections [esp smart collections] etc.

0 upvotes
Imajez
By Imajez (Jan 10, 2013)

Re Thauglor's original complaint. You simply do not need to save your files if using LR, you simply develop them and you're done. If you need them for print or web or whatever you export them to suit, which is way easier in fact. Not to mention being able to make [tweakable] presets of all your favourite output settings.
Also I'm not sure why you think you cannot edit images on the fly as I do it all the time. Finding an image in your LR Library and then tweaking in develop module is no different from using a file browser to open a photo in say Photoshop, BUT with no need to save image afterwards.
The secret is to import everything into LR and use the library module to open images into the develop module or into PS if you need to do work that is more suited to pixel tweaking rather than parametric tweaking. They integrate very nicely with one another.
And if you have a folder system you are happy with, then LR will simply import the whole lot leaving all your file structure intact.

0 upvotes
BaldCol
By BaldCol (Dec 31, 2012)

I wish there was a way I could use Lightroom across my home network rather than having it fixed to one PC. I can't see that the problems are insurmountable, I use many network based databases at work.

5 upvotes
MadsR
By MadsR (Dec 31, 2012)

The design would have to change completely, since it is strictly a userspace program, instead you should have a service level database and storage engine and then a user space client program.
It would be nice to do, but I don't think there are enough people who need it, to actually make it feasable to develop.

0 upvotes
ciresob
By ciresob (Jan 2, 2013)

I keep my photos and catalgue on an external 1T USB3 drive - it is fast & works on all the computers i have LR installed on. I back up the drive to my NAS regularly. Works a treat.

0 upvotes
graybalanced
By graybalanced (Jan 2, 2013)

It is telling that zero of the programs available in this price range have multiuser network abilities. It's fine to criticize LR about it, but what's the alternative?

0 upvotes
BaldCol
By BaldCol (Jan 4, 2013)

I dont want multiuser capibility, just the ability to access the catalogue across a network. Sometimes I don't want to sit in my office sorting images, I would prefer to access them via my laptop whist sipping a G&T in the conservatory, :-)

0 upvotes
MadsR
By MadsR (Jan 4, 2013)

Then it is not a problem, I too have my images and catalog files on a USB3 drive, it transports nicely to my laptop where I can open the catalog and work with it exactly the same as on my workstation.
Only thing is that my Windows7 workstation expects it to be there for backup, so remember that!
(And I would so like to have a conservatory to sip G&T in ;)!!!)

Comment edited 39 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
leot
By leot (Dec 31, 2012)

Esign

With LR you can do that.. Tag, process your files and export them as 16-bit TIFFS.

DONE

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Esign
By Esign (Dec 31, 2012)

I dislike deciding once and for all about catalog structures, storage units etc. I move things quite often and like to keep it that way. I also worry about hardware crashes and incompatible software. The shots of your children are worth copper now, but gold in 50-100 years. To my knowledge, the only future-safe file formats designed for long time storage are TIFF and CALS. Both can keep some embedded tags within each file, and they can be restored to a new database even if the only remaining file designations only are #0000001, #0000002, etc. But somehow, the tags must be placed in the file tag area by someone. If LR does this when saving as TIFF, I'm willing to re-evaluate LR as a useful application.

0 upvotes
MadsR
By MadsR (Dec 31, 2012)

I keep my images on my workstation, then as a complete backup of the folder structure along with a complete backup of the lightroom database on my NAS, which in turn backs everything up to the cloud.
The RAW images are converted to DNG, which is an open format, you can write your own reader to it if everyone else should decide to abandon the format and drop compatibility (But aside from microsoft, when does that every happen? Even to obsolete file types)
I can tell you for sure that this works, I have had all my data wiped out from under me (Workstation, NAS, everything!) and yet, I could restore from cloud (took an age! almost 72hours), reinstall lightroom on the new machine and open the old catalog and everything was back to where it was, down to the last pixel and comma.

2 upvotes
pixelatorcw
By pixelatorcw (Dec 31, 2012)

A lot of the user-perceived complexity of Lightroom isn't actually caused by the database approach, but comes with the way Lightroom handles editing. A Photoshop user may think of the Lightroom approach in the following logical way:'

- The original image is handled as the 'background' in Photoshop, provided that you follow a PS practice of always starting the editing process with creating a 'background copy'. This corresponds to the LR approach of never touching the original image (i.e., the 'background').

- Each editing statement in Lightroom corresponds to creating a new (adjustment) layer in Photoshop. E.g., if you increase exposure +0,75, crop the image and apply noise reduction, there will be 3 separate statements corresponding to 3 new 'layers'.

This approach could very well be followed without using a database, just by introducing a new LR file format. But in LR the editing commands reside (only) in the LR catalog until you "save metadata to files" .

1 upvote
pixelatorcw
By pixelatorcw (Dec 31, 2012)

From a TECHNICAL point of view, Lightroom does not add new type of image files when you "save metadata to files". Provided that the underlying file type can handle XMP metadata (true for JPEG, DNG and TIFF; false for proprietary RAW files), the editing commands are added to the existing files as XMP metadata. From a LOGICAL point of view, a JPEG file with LR specific XMP metadata is very much like a new and Lightroom specific file format: Other applications can read the 'image portion' of the JPEG file (i.e., the original image before editing), but they cannot see the edited image (which will require reading the original image, and then applying the Lightroom editing commands captured in XMP metadata).

0 upvotes
Neodp
By Neodp (Dec 31, 2012)

Nope, sorry. ...not going back to LR catalog hell.

6 upvotes
CameraLabTester
By CameraLabTester (Dec 31, 2012)

Sadly, this reply is echoed all over the world, of probably a majority of users who believed the marketing hype and jumped into a lake of sharks (in the case of LR, gremlins...)

LR is the exact opposite of... simplicity.

.

7 upvotes
steve ohlhaber
By steve ohlhaber (Dec 31, 2012)

Yeah, I cannot see the value of doing it the Lightroom way. Just from a performance viewpoint, it is constantly grinding in the backround. They need the option of not importing files. I change names and locations of files to manage them best and I dont care if Lightroom is all lost when I have done this. I just want to mass edit files. I dont want to manage the tags at all. They need a simpler option. Its a mess of an app. The day you dont want to use that app is the day everything they tried to do is worthless.l

4 upvotes
MadsR
By MadsR (Dec 31, 2012)

I find this most hillarious to read... Lightroom is simplicity itself, forget about old drawers (or shoeboxes) with dias, and instead have all your images readily available by looking for what is on the image or even where it is in your work process or how well you liked it.
Also, the performance... Have you ever even opened a large directory in something like bridge? It takes months to get previews of everything, in lightroom it is near instant because the preview data is stored right where you read it (not in every file where you need seperate open, seek, read, close commands on every single file throughout)

Oh well, some people like the way they have always worked, at least they have moved away from film (or have they?)

5 upvotes
littleroot
By littleroot (Jan 4, 2013)

MadsR, in Bridge you just need to change the display setting to "Prefer Embedded", then it is as fast as LR, if not faster. The only bummer is you should make this change before you select the folder with thousands of images. If when I forget to do this, I simply select a different folder, make the change and go back. After I have rated and/or keyword my images, then I filter to only display the ones I want to work with and change the display setting to Always High Quality. You can make the said change via the drop-down menu at the top right: the little two boxes about the lightbox. Sounds like more work than it is but it is much easier than dealing with catalogs. YMMV

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Brian_Downunda
By Brian_Downunda (Dec 31, 2012)

I agree with the stated reasons why a database approach is strongly desirable. That's why I use one (Imatch - Windows only). My complaint about LR is that it forces you to use its catalogues, which is unnecessary duplication if you choose to use other DAM software. Aftershot Pro / Bibble 5 (now sadly moribund since the Corel purchase) gave you the choice of using catalogues or file system mode, which at least was a better fit for users of other DB software.

Question: Does LR have the ability to let you "relocate" files and folders if you have moved them to another location? If not, then it becomes very hard to use LR with other, more powerful DAM software, and so the compulsion attached LR catalogues becomes an obstacle.

2 upvotes
pixelized
By pixelized (Dec 31, 2012)

In background mode it scans the HD to validate the catalog indexes. LR has a Collection that displays any Missing Originals. You can go into that collection and tell LR where you moved them to. LR does frown upon moving files outside of the LR system - not a best practice with LR.

2 upvotes
MadsR
By MadsR (Dec 31, 2012)

You can relocate files yes.

Lightroom also allows you to work in filesystem mode if you so please. There is no forcing you to put everything into catalogues...

2 upvotes
Brian_Downunda
By Brian_Downunda (Jan 2, 2013)

"LR does frown upon moving files outside of the LR system - not a best practice with LR."
And that's my point. If you use a DAM then of course you're supposed to manage images in that DAM. So if you use LR as a raw converter together with another DAM, you're being forced to use two DAMs.

"Lightroom also allows you to work in filesystem mode if you so please. There is no forcing you to put everything into catalogues..."
Please explain. I've never seen this. How do you edit an image in LR without first importing it into a catalogue?

0 upvotes
ciresob
By ciresob (Jan 2, 2013)

You can easily move directory trees of images anywhere you like. You then tellLR (by browsing to it) where 1 file is and it works out where all the rest are (presumably using relative paths). Besides that LR has a folder view i keep organised by import date. This is allyou need if you dont want anythg more complex. This is just a view of the folder structure on disk which is of course the same in any other software.I find it simple, powerful and convenient.

0 upvotes
phipop
By phipop (Dec 30, 2012)

thanks a lot also pixelatorcw and easycass!
(and the others too)
That kind of comments is very useful to me and restore my faith in LR!
i understand things quickly, but before, i need A LOT of explanations, (specially with LR).
have a nice day
philippe

1 upvote
pixelatorcw
By pixelatorcw (Dec 30, 2012)

It seems that a LOT of the comments have to do with misunderstandings about physical storage of images files vs. storage of metadata ABOUT the images. To clarify:

- Lightroom does NOT require or impose a certain physical storage structure. If you like, you CAN put everything in one big folder (e.g. Windows "My Pictures" catalog). But from a backup/restore point of view, it is better to use a data/time/event oriented file catalog structure, e.g. a flat catalog structure with catalogs named YYYY_MM_DD_description_of_event.

- Lightroom DOES handle all metadata ABOUT the images in its own database, the so-called Lightroom catalog. This includes all 'normal' EXIF (e.g., exposure, ISO, image dimensions), and IPTC (e.g. photographer, copyright notice) metadata, as well as all Lightroom editing commands (e.g. "increase exposure 0,6", "set color temperature to 3200K"). Lightroom does NOT require certain metadata to be used (neither keywords nor any other EXIF or IPTC field)

3 upvotes
Easycass
By Easycass (Dec 30, 2012)

The way of things...

It would seem that many of the positive comments here appear to be from those people that enjoy either discussing facts, clarifying perceptions and/or voicing honest opinions, whereas the negative comments appear more likely from those people who voice opinions, based on inconclusive perceptions, and pass them off as facts...

For those that do not need the flexibility, a folder-based system, with keyword search will work fine; no argument. But for multiple storage drives, where various different outputs of a single file need to be maintained without touching the original file, without the storage overhead of storing each new version, with fast look-up and preview, in a portable, extensible database, even when original files are not available, the catalogue approach of LR works quite well.

Of course, the above two paragraphs are not facts, but only an opinion, based on my own biased perceptions and real experience using the product... so what would I know?

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
leot
By leot (Dec 30, 2012)

PART TWO

And Zamac said the time it takes to remove images… again: after you have marked all the bad images you can remove them only from your catalogue, or completely from your computer in a single action. SIMPLE, EASY. BUT YOU MUST KNOW WHAT TO DO!

The most difficult thing for the uninitiated to grasp (and believe) - in my humble estimation - is that ALL your processing changes that you have made are automatically saved. Now - to get your final product - you need to EXPORT. I have export presets - from prints to view files and BIG prints, for screens for phones and for tablets. Select the images - using dates, flags, color codes or keywords - and output them. BUT you need a mind shift - simple for some users, major for others.

Last but not least - the fact that LR does not TOUCH (i.e. write to the file) of your precious image (depending on settings) is an amazing plus.

7 upvotes
leot
By leot (Dec 30, 2012)

As a long time amateur photographer and LR user I find it strange that the negative comments are mainly from people that did not take the trouble to learn how LR works.

You can fit the modern, high performance tyres to your car and drive around without pumping them to the specified pressure - the choice is ENTIRELY yours - but then your criticisms are really baseless.

It is no secret that you can have your file structure, save your images there, use LR to copy this locations to its catalog and work from there - like NoVI Photo. The more you do at the import stage, - position, catalogue, keyword, pre-process - the easier and more time you save and the better you can manage your images. And your directory names also becomes searchable...

11 upvotes
Infared
By Infared (Dec 30, 2012)

+1 great observation. Do the work people....reap the rewards!

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
pixelized
By pixelized (Dec 30, 2012)

I was going to post some information on LR and DAM, but I kept seeing many users mention ACDsee, so I decided to find a review to read. PC Mag came up in my search, good enough for an idea of features. One surprise I had was that it doesn't work on a Mac. Another was the limited plug-ins it can use. Without going into great detail, here is how the article ends:

"But for just $50 more, you can get the even more powerful, more flexible and equally intuitive Adobe Lightroom, our Editors' Choice for digital photo workflow software."

If you disagree, write to PC Mag, not me. I'm glad I chose to go with LR.

0 upvotes
andrewD2
By andrewD2 (Dec 30, 2012)

Lightroom's strengths are also its weakenesses.
Being coded "mostly" in LUA it allows for scripting and plugins. Its not going to be as fast as the ACR interface and Lightroom lags behind ACR on export speed.
Databases are great if you do need cross linking and keywording of images. For stock its essential to have that but for people shooting event by event or contract by contract the complexity of a database over a simple file system isn't usually required.
I could tag all images with flowers in by the florist that did them, the dresses by dress shop and designer, the images of each venue, etc. For me that would take longer to set up for every wedding than the odd time when someone says, "have you any flower shots from the wed of x and y".
Most important for me is data integrity and simplicity of backup (the easier it is the more often you do it). Being able to sync .xmp files (Beyond Compare) and simple drag and drop duplication across drives is essential to me.

Comment edited 23 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
phipop
By phipop (Dec 30, 2012)

hello everybody,
i bought LR a few months ago, did some tests and not much more until now.
I bought it because i read so much good comments on LR in the french photo press. And that's all. I DONT want LR catalogs and LR collections, and i just want the ability to put let's say one 1000 raw files from d90 or d800 and process to the best jpegs as possible and that's all.
I even wonder now if this is just possible!
i dont mind LR spirit and i am ready to 'destroy' the usefuless others catalogs created by LR, as i want to take the raws files where i put them, and 'export' the jpegs from LR where i want. Saves and others things i do myself.
Excuse my english and THANKS!
philippe

2 upvotes
gsum
By gsum (Dec 30, 2012)

I do something similar to you but I'm not sure why you find it difficult.
Create a directory structure using Windows Explorer that is capable of supporting what you want it to do and process your files using the best RAW software for Nikon - Capture NX2. All you then need to do is to ensure that you impose a bit of discipline on yourself to use the directory structure appropriately and back-up your work to e.g. Pocket Drives.
To view your images, Irfanview (freeware) is very good and is capable of basic editing if you download the extensions.
The advantage of this method is that you retain control of your directory structures and you can make these structures as flexible as you wish. There is no need to exist with the constraints of Adobe's limitations.

0 upvotes
NoVI Photo
By NoVI Photo (Dec 30, 2012)

Hello Philippe. I have been using LR for the last few years to process my raw image files and generate TIFF or JPEG output files. I really like the efficiency LR offers for processing large numbers of images (shot at the same event). You can very quickly adjust white balance, noise reduction, sharpening, etc. and apply it to all your output images in seconds. I also find the exposure controls, brushes, gradients, etc., very efficient and easy to use.

I keep my own filing structure that makes sense to me. I simply configure LR to import the images from the camera's memory card into the appropriate folder when I begin processing my images. As I discovered from this forum, I am apparently not taking advantage of the catalog and collection features of LR, but they appear to offer limited benefit for me, and maybe the same will be true for you. I still recommend using LR, even if you're only interested in the image processing capabilities.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
phipop
By phipop (Dec 30, 2012)

Thanks a lot gsum and NoVI Photo !
i am coming back to life...
I will use LR like you say NoVI, i just want to use the raw converter.
Have a nice day!
philippe

0 upvotes
pixelatorcw
By pixelatorcw (Dec 30, 2012)

Yes, that is possible! Lightroom has excellent functionality for converting RAW files to very good JPEG images. You do not need to use metadata tagging or Lightroom collections, and you can put the images in any file system catalog you want. If you like, you can also copy the image files manually to a certain file system catalog, and then 'add' the images to the Lightroom database ("add" is a small subset of the Lightroom import functionality).

Personally, I prefer to "copy" the images from the memory card using Lightroom's import functionality, as this enables a few add on functions to be performed as an integral part of "copying":

- Add standard IPTC metadata to all images, e.g. photographer's name and copyright.

- Convert file type from proprietary RAW files to standard digital negative format (DNG).

- Rename file names from e.g. IMG_8876 to YYYY_DD_MM-HH_MM_SS_IMG_8876. This is very convenient to merge results from several cameras.

0 upvotes
CG33
By CG33 (Dec 30, 2012)

I hope somebody in Adobe reads all the comments and observations. Especially the negative ones (that are plenty). I wish I can use LR for RAW editing, but to me, it is a waste of money. I also removed LR from my computer and prefer to use ACDsee for cataloguing.

3 upvotes
Infared
By Infared (Dec 30, 2012)

I agree with everything that Martin says. Trust me...I struggled seriously to change my thinking to the LR model of thinking and organizing (after reading some of the comments below I believe that artist brains have trouble with the basic LR concept...mine did! LOL!). I sat and read LR-in-a-book, etc. and forced myself to learn a new way of thinking and organizing. (I still use PS6 [and other softwares] as plugins within LR for ultimate versatility in editing my images. LR is good to a point for editing but less sophisticated in many area for my image editing needs. No problem, ad what you need). It takes time and patience but you really can have everything under one roof. With incredible organization
LR is the way to go if you want a well-thought-out software to catalog your photos. It's a versatile, space-saving, and editing-accommodating software that is non-degrading to your original images. It's safe too, ie., easily backed-up.
Now...about that cloud!?!? LOL!

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Zamac
By Zamac (Dec 30, 2012)

It would seem that, unlike some people, I have no trouble finding the image I want in the many thousands I have stored in the normal folder system - just think the same way as when storing them.

I do use Lightroom, but rather on a project or time-slice basis, creating and deleting catalogues as needed. This loses the powerful search and collection facilities in LR, but they are easily replaced by other more flexible programs which work well given the power of modern computers. My biggest gripe with LR is that the scripting system is obscured, difficult to use and fragile.

0 upvotes
fuego6
By fuego6 (Dec 30, 2012)

I find it hard to believe that you can locate a "red" "flower" in your thousands of images using just a folder system. Sure - finding a photo of your family vacation is easy - just remember the date.. but not a specific image. Keywording is the answer and catalogs make search and retrieval quick and easy.

1 upvote
Zamac
By Zamac (Dec 30, 2012)

True, but I very seldom need to look for that sort of thing. When I do, I have a search program that scans file name, Exif, IPTC and embedded comments for specific values and (a limited number of )combinations. Usually scanning the file names is enough, though the program is not sophisticated enough to bring up a file with the name containing 'red lily' when I want red flower- though I could tag it with 'flower' in the IPTC. LR is a bit quicker, but not really easier, and the speed is offset by the time I spend exporting and removing images I want to discard.

0 upvotes
Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (Dec 31, 2012)

I generally have no trouble finding images in my LR catalog even though they are stored by hierarchical folder structure, and not keyworded or loaded into regular or smart collections. This is with 130,000+ images in the catalog.

I think using a flat date-drive folder structure is just nuts. It's nothing but redundant metadata. Why not add a little bit of information by maintaining a hierarchical folder structure? It takes 1% of the time that keywording does, and it doesn't preclude you from keywording, using collections, or both.

2 upvotes
Bryan Conner
By Bryan Conner (Dec 30, 2012)

Thanks Martin. I enjoyed reading your article. I am a relatively new convert to Lightroom, and I love it. I have been using Photoshop since1998 (Version 4). I decided to open my mind and learn Lightroom 4 soon after it's release. Before spending the time to learn and to accept a new way of thinking and organizing, I was a dedicated Bridge/ACR user/evangelist. I saw no need for having Lightroom....it was confusing (different) and "I could do everything I needed in Bridge/ACR). Now, looking back, I was wasting a lot of valuable time. Thanks for the article.

1 upvote
troutbum96013
By troutbum96013 (Dec 30, 2012)

I had heard so much about LR that I installed the program. I bought the Classroom in a book and faithfully did the lessons. I spent several months trying to learn LR. In the final analysis, I hated it. I didn't like the catalogs and I most certainly hated importing an image so I could work with it. For some I'm sure LR is the greatest program since Obamacare. However, for me, its useless. I ended up uninstalling it and ordering Photoshop Elements. Now, I'm as happy as a Repulican at an NRA convention.

4 upvotes
fuego6
By fuego6 (Dec 30, 2012)

Why did you not like having to catalog an image to work with it? Was it too much work to just add the image to work with it? LOL.. and what do you think Elements is doing with your images... cataloging them!

4 upvotes
pixelatorcw
By pixelatorcw (Dec 30, 2012)

Lightroom is an excellent tool for making simultaneous 'minor' changes to SEVERAL images in one operation, e.g. adjust color temperature for all 120 images in a batch, or for setting luminance noise reduction to 25 for all images in that batch having ISO 3200 or higher. Photoshop and Photoshop Elements are excellent tools for doing advanced changes (i.e., requiring layers and masking) to individual images.

Yes, you CAN use 'batch operations' in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, but with dramatically reduced productivity compared with Lighttoom. And you CAN do some fairly advanced retouching (using brushes and masks) in Lightroom, but with lower productivity than using Photoshop for these tasks.

0 upvotes
ddolde
By ddolde (Dec 30, 2012)

I'm only using LR because I don't like Phocus for my H4D raws. I like LR's editing features but the catalog not very much. I'd use Capture One if it supported Hassy raws in a heartbeat

0 upvotes
Dandersson
By Dandersson (Dec 30, 2012)

I'm a PC guy... And I once was a happy RSP user when Adobe swallowed Pixmantec and buried that software. I got LR version one and struggled with it up to three when I finally gave up and now I do all my DAM and RAW conversions in ACDSee Pro6. The good things with ACDSee is that it offers most of what LR does but does not force you to manually import your images. Just browsing a folder of images (or for that sake importing them with ACDSee to a folder (or sub directory if you prefer that terminology) is enough for ACDSee to register your images in its database. So, it kind of offers the best of two worlds. It is a fast and efficient browser and viewer AND a database supported DAM tool (and has a build in RAW converter/developer [like LR] AND a simple but extremely capable pixel editor AND you can ad external editors that you send you're files to when you need external editing power...
For me ACDSee is much faster to work with and I spend a lot less time in front of the computer.
I like!

0 upvotes
fuego6
By fuego6 (Dec 30, 2012)

The import process between LR and ACDSee is the SAME thing... sure - you can "browse" to import in ACD... but it really is no different than LR and you really should just import your entire library into LR anyway when you first get the program. No point in NOT cataloging your files... how are you going to easily find them via keyowrds? Everyone uses software differently - but it sounds like you are not fully utilizing the power of what a catalog can offer.

2 upvotes
Dandersson
By Dandersson (Jan 1, 2013)

I might not have been clear enough. The thing is that ACDSee is a file browser WITH a database and actually offer the same possibilities to organize images with the freedom the database give in oppose to just organizing images in a folder hierarchy. When LR force you to always actively register your images to the database ACDSee does it automatically as the files are viewed in the browser.
The article implies that a browser based software forces you to move copies of the same folder to different folders (the divers folder and the sharks folder). That is true in many cases but ACDSee offer you the best of both worlds. The database is so closely integrated in the browser that you might not even notice it. You just visit your files and start adding categories and managing metadata.
Still, this is of course a minor thing... The most important for me is that I (personally) work much faster in ACDSee than I do in LR.

0 upvotes
Antlab
By Antlab (Jan 3, 2013)

I fully agree with Dandersson.
After testing and comparing LR, I chose ACDSee Pro both for browsing/cataloguing and for RAW development (now I have the 6 version).
The speed, the simplicity and the readable interface of ACDSee allow a much better workflow for me.
Sincerely I think that many people use LR simply because it is from Adobe.
The countless discussions and necessary explainations just about its basic features indicate a quite involved product. Surely good for Adobe, authors of countless books, courses and so on, I am not sure for real users and photographs.

0 upvotes
Norm Ullock
By Norm Ullock (Dec 30, 2012)

Martin Implies that keywording in Lightroom gives makes it easy to find an image and that it would be difficult to find an image in a folder based system like Adobe Bridge.
If you do the same keywording in Bridge as he suggests you do in Lightroom, then you have the same ability to find images quickly. In addition all changes are in the image file, should you decide to use that file in another application like Pro Show Producer.
Personally the extra work in Lightroom of importing , exporting, catalog management and maintaining compatibility of files for use with Bridge and Photoshop is work I can do without.
But everyone should choose what they like to work with the best.

0 upvotes
fed2man
By fed2man (Dec 29, 2012)

The thing I am struggling with is how to keep track and back up images that I have changed in Photoshop. I do cntrl/cmd E to send the image to PS, and when I have finished, provided I save it in PS the changed image is shown in LR. BUT, and this is a big BUT, all that LR has in its list of instructions database is the fact that it went to PS for changes; the changes themselves are not recorded.Thus I need to keep track of these images so I can back up the actual images, because the LR catalog alone, plus the original image, would not be able to recreate the PS changed image. Anyone know how to deal with this issue? Or put me tight if I have something wrong? Other than this I love LR!

0 upvotes
richardplondon
By richardplondon (Dec 30, 2012)

In fact, the Photoshop edited image appears in Lightroom as a fresh image version. The prior version with all of its editing History up to that moment, is still also there.

The editing done in PS is - by definition - not of the kind that LR could have done or kept track of. It has to happen in an external, separate file on disk. The way that this is preserved, is by backing up the PS editing file (the PSD or the TIFF file complete with all its pixel and adjustment layers, masks and such) along with all the other image files that your LR Catalog is using. Such PS editing files are by default created inside the same folder as the camera file on which they have been - with adjustments - based. So they will be included automatically if you backup that folder.

Then you also backup your Catalog (database) file, regularly, and all of your work is safeguarded.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
Jim-S
By Jim-S (Dec 29, 2012)

Hi folks. Here's another question about catalogs. We're a commercial studio handling lots of large layered files, and our workflow consists of capture software, editing software (PS) and an asset manager (Iview Media Pro). Am I correct that there would be no way to use LR in a networked environment, where images are initially edited at one workstation, and later edited on a different computer? I have always assumed that the way LR maintains a catalog prevents this. Have I missed something?

0 upvotes
DaytonR
By DaytonR (Dec 29, 2012)

Yep when the latest version of Lightroom was released it had no ability to be used in a networked environment (I hope Adobe sort this out soon), but I think ACDSee and Cyberlink Photodirector can be used in networked environments.....

0 upvotes
grahamdyke
By grahamdyke (Dec 30, 2012)

Well you could use Lightroom in a networked environment actually.

When you install lightroom on the first workstation just create the new catalogue on a networked filesystem, one that is currently shared by your server, or NAS box.

Then for all the other workstations during the install when LR asks if you want to create a new, or use an existing catalogue, just point it at the catalogue you previously created on your network drive.

The only caveat being that I'm not sure how The LR database manager would react to the same image data being accessed/updated from two different locations at the same time, if that ever occured on your system.

0 upvotes
krikman
By krikman (Dec 30, 2012)

No way. Lightroom doesn't allow you create or use lrcat catalog on network drive. Moreover, ALR uses very extencively cache folder in same folder as catalog. It uses plenty of open files so not suitable for average networks.

Comment edited 26 seconds after posting
1 upvote
pixelatorcw
By pixelatorcw (Dec 30, 2012)

You should NOT put the Lightroom catalog on a network drive! The problem is actually not the cache folder, but that Lightroom's catalog is built using the SQL Lite database, see http://www.sqlite.org/. This is a single-user single-process database system that simply does not support the required locking mechanisms for multi-user setups. Putting the Lightroom catalog on a network drive may easily result in a corrupted Lightroom catalog. Hopefully you have catalog backups stored a safe place and/or metadata changes written to the original files if you attempt to put the catalog on a network drive...

1 upvote
tbcass
By tbcass (Dec 29, 2012)

I like everything about Lightroom except the cataloging feature. I like to organize my photos by year and month. The necessity of having to import photos into the catalog is a royal pain in the A!!! I don't like it and wish I could turn off the cataloging feature and use it as a plain browser/editor..

6 upvotes
Hugowolf
By Hugowolf (Dec 29, 2012)

I use year folders and date folders within. I have never had a problem getting LR to do this. I only shoot about 5 days a week, so I don't really have a need for a separate month level.
If you want to browse and edit, then use the Adobe Raw Convertor - 99% of LR editing and without the DB catalog.

Comment edited 29 seconds after posting
2 upvotes
LiSkynden
By LiSkynden (Dec 29, 2012)

Exactly my feelings about LR.

0 upvotes
Rob Bernhard
By Rob Bernhard (Dec 29, 2012)

@tbcass if you are unable to use lightroom with your existing folder structure then you are doing it wrong. I use year/date folder structures without any problems.

3 upvotes
offenblende
By offenblende (Dec 30, 2012)

tbcass, I also use year-month folders to organize my pictures. You can do it yourself and tell Lightroom to only add them to the catalog and leave the files in their original location during import. However, I prefer to use Lightroom to do the folder organization automatically for me. Check out the "Destination" section in the import screen: specify how files are organized ("by date") and what the folder structure should look like.

6 upvotes
acidic
By acidic (Dec 30, 2012)

If you don't need cataloging, then use Bridge.

If you're not going to use the database functionality of LR, there's no use using it.

1 upvote
ksgant
By ksgant (Dec 30, 2012)

Seriously, you tell Lightroom how YOU want it to work, it doesn't make you do anything.

I import my images straight off my flash card, into a folder structure on my HD that's broken down into year/month/job. When I have a new job for December for instance, and I throw my card into the reader, Lightroom fires up and I point to where I want it to import the images. It will even make a new folder which I name (according to the Job) and put the images into that folder on my HD.

I can't understand how everyone is having so much problems with this concept. It's boggling my mind. LR is about the easiest program I've ever used.

0 upvotes
graybalanced
By graybalanced (Jan 2, 2013)

Yet another misinformed post. I organize my photos by year and month too. Using Lightroom to do it, using one of the many date organization choices LR provides upon importing new photos. Also, I had LR import my years of film files in their year/month folders and in their current locations...unchanged. LR didn't force me to do anything. If you think you're being forced, you're doing it wrong.

0 upvotes
Earthlight
By Earthlight (Dec 29, 2012)

I have mixed feelings about Lightroom. I have been using it for a month or so now and I still wish I could opt to use it as a simple browser-developer. Please give us a chance to choose between a catalog mode and a browser mode.

5 upvotes
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Dec 29, 2012)

Following all the commentary, I've done a little checking around.
DOES ANYONE ELSE HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH THE FOLLOWING IMAGE EDITING SOFTWARES? (please share)

CHASYS DRAW IES http://download.cnet.com/Chasys-Draw-IES/3000-2192_4-10909426.html

PIXBUILDER STUDIO http://download.cnet.com/PixBuilder-Studio/3000-2192_4-74096.html

PHOTOSCAPE http://download.cnet.com/PhotoScape/3000-2192_4-10703122.html

PIXIA http://download.cnet.com/Pixia/3000-2192_4-10112912.html (this one's for our kids)

Before you say anything about Paint.net, it's not mentioned because it doesn't have RAW support.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
bobbarber
By bobbarber (Dec 30, 2012)

I would look at gimp. Gimp will do pretty much everything photoshop or lightroom will do, although the user interface is a little clunky. Actually, a lot clunky. But it is very capable. Some people don't like the color spaces available, but it has done everything I have ever asked it to do.

Gimp is not for organizing photos or raw photos. But it can easily be configured to open raw files with something like UFRaw from an application like Digikam.

My workflow = all photos stored in Digikam. Right click = option to open in Gimp. If the file is raw (.orf or .rw2 in my case), the request to open in Gimp sends the file to UFRaw, where I adjust WB, etc., then click to send it to gimp.

Cost = $0.00

Gimp is not amateur software because it's free. The gimp has more functionality, plugins, etc. than anyone could reasonably need, handles color profiles, image masks, noise reduction, everything, basically.

0 upvotes
pixelatorcw
By pixelatorcw (Dec 30, 2012)

Gimp is more a replacement for Photoshop (provided that you do not need well integrated RAW handling and 16 bit color channels) than it is for Lightroom. In addition for the digital asset management functionality and excellent RAW processing, Lightroom is excellent when it comes to multi-image editing operations, while both Gimp and Photoshop are somewhat mediocre tools for batch editing.

0 upvotes
bobbarber
By bobbarber (Dec 30, 2012)

@pixelatorcw

Hi pixelator,

I think that raw handling in gimp is "well integrated." UFRaw, with all the functionality of dcraw, sends raw files to gimp no fuss at all. Ditto for dcraw in batch mode.

Gimp is now based on gegl in testing and unstable versions, which offers 16 AND 32 bit color channels. This will be ported to the stable release in 2013--at least that is the stated goal.

You are right about batch mode; gimp sucks at that. But that's why there's dcraw and imagemagick, which I will bet anything are faster in combination than lightroom, although admittedly not for everyone since they are command line utilities.

0 upvotes
pixelatorcw
By pixelatorcw (Dec 31, 2012)

bobbarber: I fully agree to your comments about 16 bit color channels. By mid/late 2013 this will most probably be solved.

Regarding RAW file support, this is much more elegantly integrated in Lightroom than in the combined Photoshop + Camera Raw. In my view, Gimp + UFRaw is similar to the latter combination. Whether this is "well enough" integrated is of course a matter of taste.

0 upvotes
Tape5
By Tape5 (Dec 29, 2012)

A successful software especially one that is supposed to facilitate organisation, must form its core ideas around the developers' insights into how the mind operates and what the users like to see in UI and the transparency with which their precious files are manipulated and stored. Too many people have obviously found their LR experience a tad frustrating :

''Did I just delete the edited third copy of my second backup in the folder that LR designated or just move my unsaved original RAW into the archive that I have saved twice already before the edited version was auto-saved ?!??!!!!?!?!''

I will be surprised if the coming generation of femto-second-attention-span kids will even give it a glance in its current form.

1 upvote
NoVI Photo
By NoVI Photo (Dec 29, 2012)

I have used LR for the last few years and find it far more efficient than PhotoShop for editing large batches of images from a single event. It takes seconds to set white balance, exposure, noise reduction, sharpening, etc. for the whole batch. I haven't used the keywords technique until reading this article. I just opened up all the catalogs that I made in 2012, and within a half hour attached keywords on the thousands of images. Like the image editing, it was very easy to select dozens of images at once and give them the same keywords. So far, so good.

But I fail to see the advantage of how this helps me find a particular image more quickly. I can search within a catalog to find an image that has been tagged with a particular keyword, which is a time saver, but only a small one since the catalog only contains images of a particular event anyway. I don't see how I can search other catalogs, or my hard drive for images with the same keyword. Am I missing something?

1 upvote
Rob Bernhard
By Rob Bernhard (Dec 29, 2012)

The real question is: why are you using so many catalogs in the first place? You seem to be using catalogs where collections would be more appropriate.

2 upvotes
NoVI Photo
By NoVI Photo (Dec 29, 2012)

It could be that I'm using catalogs incorrectly. I create a new catalog whenever I take photos of a new major event. But unless I have one giant catalog that contains a bunch of collections for all the photos I've ever taken, I don't see how the tagging of photos with keywords in LR will help me do a "Google-like" search of all my images to find every instance of photos of my son, for example.

How do you partition your catalogs? What's the logic for when to start a new catalog v. just making a new collection within a catalog?

0 upvotes
Model Mike
By Model Mike (Dec 29, 2012)

> Am I missing something.
Suggest reduce the number of catalogs to the minimum, then do your filtering in each catalog using keywords. In addition, re-import your images into a date-based hierarchy (LR can set up the folders and sub-folders automatically). Date-based folder hierarchies + keywords are the key to getting the best out of LR.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 8 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
NoVI Photo
By NoVI Photo (Dec 29, 2012)

I'm beginning to think I'm not missing something, but rather see LR's current keyword feature as lacking. If it allowed for searching keywords *across* catalogs, it would be useful.

My directories, sub-directories, and files are already organized by year, then the name of the sub-directory under the year is the name of the event (e.g., 2012\Christmas). I create the LR catalog file within the appropriate directory, and then import the raw images into that same directory. When I export the edited images, I put the files in a sub-directory of the catalog directory called "edited".

It's very simple to go to a year and find a particular event with my directory organization. I can use Windows 7 Explorer like Google to find the name of any event, and with Windows' indexing feature, it's as fast as a Google search on the Internet. Inside that directory, I just browse the thumbnails in the "edited" sub-directory to find the image I'm looking for. It takes seconds.

0 upvotes
pixelized
By pixelized (Dec 29, 2012)

Hi. In regards to searching your hard drive vs. LR keywords, please consider this. What if what you want to find is not one specific image but a type of image such as all the images of roses you have ever taken. How would you do that and how long would it take? Depending on the size of a catalog, a keyword search is often 5-10 seconds.
As far as searching multiple catalogs I will say that vendors of large scale DAM systems suggest only using one catalog. The DAM sys I admin at work has 3 catalogs and it is problematic - even with multiple catalog searches. Less is more.

1 upvote
Klaus Weber
By Klaus Weber (Dec 29, 2012)

I am using only one catalog for all my photos (currently 48.000). Looking for photos via keywords is lightning fast - there is no time of waiting at all. I enter the keyword, e.g. "Belgrade", and within the second I see all the 327 photos tagged with this keyword, shot within several years. And can of course use more filters like the star ratings additionally.

Using only the file system structure (that I of course also keep intact in parallel) cannot beat this.

2 upvotes
Rob Bernhard
By Rob Bernhard (Dec 29, 2012)

[[It could be that I'm using catalogs incorrectly. I create a new catalog whenever I take photos of a new major event]]

You are. Catalogs are not meant to be used this way. There is absolutely no reason for you to be creating new catalogs for separate events. You should be using collections, keeping your photos in one catalog.

Multiple catalogs are useful, IMHO, when you have completely separate and independent content. Where keywording would be completely different and you would never have a need for searching both at the same time.

You can merge your existing catalogs together into one master catalog. I would highly recommend you find some basic tutorials on what lightroom is and how it's used.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
NoVI Photo
By NoVI Photo (Dec 30, 2012)

Thanks for all the replies. I will definitely consider merging all my catalogs into one as I do like the idea of searching by keywords.

0 upvotes
NoVI Photo
By NoVI Photo (Dec 30, 2012)

I just watched the LR catalog tutorial on Adobe's site. It explains, "you can create as many catalogs as you like" and, "I always put the catalog file in the same directory as the source image files". There was never mention of using one giant catalog, or the advantages of having one giant catalog for all one's images.

But I also found this FAQ: "Unless you're working with thousands of photos and performance is a concern, try not to use multiple catalogs. Multiple catalogs can become complicated to manage. Lightroom offers myriad ways to sort, filter, and otherwise organize and find photos within one catalog. For example, you can use folders, collections, keywords, labels, and ratings. With a little thought and practice, you can probably find ways to organize and manage all of your photos successfully in one catalog."

I have 10's of thousands of photos, and performance is always a concern, so it doesn't appear that supporting Google-like searches of all one's images is realistic.

Comment edited 12 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Rob Bernhard
By Rob Bernhard (Dec 30, 2012)

[[so it doesn't appear that supporting Google-like searches of all one's images is realistic.]]

@novi photo:
I have over 100,000 photos in one, single, catalog. There is no problem searching for anything, nor is performance a concern for the 2 year-old desktop PC running the software. The previous machine, which is now 7 years old, did not have any problems either.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
acidic
By acidic (Dec 30, 2012)

Creating and maintaining separate catalogs for each event defeats the purpose of LR's cataloging capability. What you're doing is akin to creating a separate iTunes Library for each and every album or artist.

Instead create one giant category, with all of your images in them. Import them as is, no need to move them into new directories. All of your 2012/Christmas photos can stay put.

You'll see the directory structure of all of your images in the left pane. When you conduct a keyword search, you can limit your search to specific directories, or search across directories and even search the entire catalog if you choose to do so. In addition to keywords, you can even create Collections, which allow you to categorize your images. You can even create hierarchical collections and subcollections (e.g. People>Family>Mom or Travel>USA>NY>NYC>Times Square).

Some people do like to create separate catalogs for their different types of work: wedding/commercial/personal/etc but I don't bother.

1 upvote
Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (Dec 31, 2012)

"How do you partition your catalogs? What's the logic for when to start a new catalog v. just making a new collection within a catalog?"

Simple - never, ever, start a new catalog. Put everything in one.

0 upvotes
ArmandN
By ArmandN (Dec 29, 2012)

FYI: a recent article compares the latest versions of Lightroom, DXO and Capture One (Aperture is sadly missing): http://www.twin-pixels.com/best-photo-raw-converters/

0 upvotes
cknapp1961
By cknapp1961 (Dec 29, 2012)

Tried LR about a year ago. As a 51 year old guy who grew up on Kodachrome 25 in the 70's, still develops film up to 4x5, prints up to 16x20 from B&W, started using digital in the late 90s and shoot with a Nikon D700 now, who scanned thousand of old family photos a long time ago, learned to use a DOS DB before learning to use a WP, and cringes every time I hear someone say "folder" when they mean "sub-directory, I found LR unacceptable.

I like knowing where my files physically are, under ONE primary Sub-directory making it easy to backup to a secondary or tertiary drive, sync to Carbonite, or automatically add files to my system screensaver.

I learned 12 years ago to create a sub-directory structure, YYYY MO DAY DESCRIPTIVE WORDS (up to 64 characters), using 2xExplorer (a dual-pane file MGR), ThumbsPlus (a photo browser-linked to external programs such as PS). I learned 12 years ago to save edits simply by adding a "c" (for change) to the file name.

Never lost a file or photo.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
pixelized
By pixelized (Dec 29, 2012)

I have a very similar background to you with photography, except I use Canon. There is one thing you mention that I do not understand. What does LR have to do with how you define your image directory structure on your hard drive?

4 upvotes
mactheweb
By mactheweb (Dec 29, 2012)

And this has what to do with the article?

1 upvote
Timmbits
By Timmbits (Dec 29, 2012)

I totally agree with you. But allow me to nuance:
a sub-directory is in one place. a folder can be a virtual location that points to an actual sub-directory - it can be in a different location without changing the location of the subdirectory itself. (perfect examples are "My Documents", "My Pictures", which are but folders, not sub directories.

0 upvotes
Indulis Bernsteins
By Indulis Bernsteins (Dec 29, 2012)

...and what do you do if you want to find all photos with Aunty Jenny for her funeral, what do you do? Ah OK just physically look at all of your photos. Not a very good use of the computing technology available to you to make your life easier I think.

A directory structure is really just a set of keywords anyway, but just very restrictive.

The sooner you make the break from physical placement to tags/keywords, the easier it is to recall just a subset of photos you're interested in.

The only use for knowing the physical placement is to make sure that your backup for photos aren't on the same physical device as the originals. IMHO. Though of course if you want to be the "family photographer" who can't find the photos of Aunty Jenny thats up to you of course! ;-)

1 upvote
graybalanced
By graybalanced (Dec 29, 2012)

I come from the other direction. I cringe when I hear someone say "sub-directory." What the heck does that word mean to 99% of the population?

I prefer to hear "folder" because it reminds me of the era when they actually tried to make computers into something anyone can use, rather than the "sub-directory" era of typing pathnames as arguments to command lines. If we had left computing in the "subdirectory" era, computers never would have become a tool accessible enough for photographers and visual artists to use.

As for knowing where your files physically are, I don't see why this is a problem. If I right-click any file or folder in LR, there is a "Reveal in Explorer" or "Reveal in Finder" command that will instantly tell me where on disk that object resides.

People throughout this thread are actually making up reasons to dislike Lightroom, reasons that don't exist.

4 upvotes
onlooker
By onlooker (Dec 29, 2012)

Indulis Bernsteins wrote:
"...and what do you do if you want to find all photos with Aunty Jenny for her funeral, what do you do? Ah OK just physically look at all of your photos. Not a very good use of the computing technology available to you to make your life easier I think."

Have you used Windows 7? The way OP described his naming convention, he can type the keywords in a search box in the top-level directory, and the output is nearly instantaneous, even through thousands and thousands of images. It is all indexed, so it doesn't have to search through all the directories. So how exactly is it not a good use of the technology? Since you like taking advantage of the computing technology, you have tried automatic indexing, right?

Comment edited 26 seconds after posting
1 upvote
tbcass
By tbcass (Dec 29, 2012)

I too started with computers before there were "folders" but really just think of folders as directories and sub directories as sub folders. Different names for the same thing.

0 upvotes
pixelized
By pixelized (Dec 30, 2012)

There seems to be a lot of concern overt the semantics of Folders vs. Directories and Sub-Directories, much like the earlier discussion of the word 'Import' in LR vs Index or whatever term someone has an affection for. Very generally speaking, Mac users like Folder and some Windows users like Directories & Sub-Directories. At the end of the day, does it really matter what word is used when we all understand what we are referring to?

I have to agree with graybalance that many are using the forum to trash LR. Many of the comments I am reading are based in a lack or knowledge about how LR works. I am still in the learning stage with LR, but I am trying to learn - I am not viewing every challenge to my knowledge as an obstacle I cannot overcome and turn to my advantage. If you know LR, offer advice. If you don't know it, ask questions.

5 upvotes
JStockton
By JStockton (Dec 30, 2012)

I use a folder structure like cknapp1961 AND use LR. It's a little extra work, but you can maintain a folder structure and take advantage of LR's database features. LR allows you to create and maintain folders and subfolders. I import into folders yyyymmdd-event and I add tags at the same time. I can then use tags for search and collections for viewing groups of photos that span multiple folders.

0 upvotes
Ed_arizona
By Ed_arizona (Dec 30, 2012)

So what's the big deal then? I do the same thing in LR...at Import stage I just create new directory where I want and import files to that directory, I do not do any metatag any photos YUCK, Year structure and subfolders within, work fine for me...point is you are doing same windows file location creation, just within LR with LR cataloging where you put them

0 upvotes
pixelatorcw
By pixelatorcw (Dec 30, 2012)

I use Lightroom heavily, and I also put all images in date/time/event oriented folders named YYYY_MM_DD_brief_description_of_event using the Lightroom import functionality. From a backup/restore point of view it is pretty stupid to put all images physically in a single "my pictures" directory, even if Lightroom puts METADATA about the images in the same database.

Lightroom will give you SIGNIFICANT productivity gains compared with Photoshop if your typical workflow (from a photo shoot) includes minor adjustments (exposure, color temperature, lens corrections, ...) to SEVERAL images in one 'batch'.

0 upvotes
RichardTerrio
By RichardTerrio (Dec 29, 2012)

Am I confused, or maybe I just missed it, but I see no mention in the article or in the comments about the granddaddy of all image cataloging software, Photoshop Elements. This SW started decades ago with Photoshop Album now known as PS Elements 11. I have over 40,000 images cataloged with an average of three tags per image. I can’t imagine how many unique tags names I have but it is well over 1,500 I’m sure. Everything I shoot is dumped into Elements. From Elements I launch PS CS6 for editing.

0 upvotes
pixelized
By pixelized (Dec 29, 2012)

I don't think you are confused. The topic of the article is LR and this forum is mostly the pros and cons of LR as an organizer and editor. I have 5 non-windows apps that can organize images, most can edit too. I also have multiple editing apps. We find what works for us as individuals. There is no one size fits all in this process and all apps have different pros and cons for different users - just look at the debate over the word Import. It never crossed my mind that it was an issue since I import and export in so many apps.

For now I am working with LR and PS. Picasa still monitors my folders for me, no reason to turn it off yet, but I am looking at LR to create a workflow process for images I may publish on the web. I do find the tools to be a great fit for my methodology.

0 upvotes
grahamdyke
By grahamdyke (Dec 30, 2012)

Sounds like you have a very similar setup to mine, with the exception that I do use LR as the editor, but have retained Elements Organiser as the cataloging software.

The main reason for this is the complete mess that LR makes of importing an Elements catalog with over 40,000 images in. Gone is the brilliant hierarchical tagging structure that you had in Elements, in favour of an old fashioned flat keyword structure. It may be in a database, but man it aint pretty...

0 upvotes
Art Guertin
By Art Guertin (Dec 29, 2012)

Some like it hot, some like it cold - The plot never changes and seldom do people. It seems (IMO) that photographers in particular, at least in their on-line comments, are a very polarized group of really talented folks who either like a particular software application and can't live without it, or they really despise it and can't find enough negative comments to vent about it every chance they have.
I'm no different - I really appreciate Adobe Lightroom, find it quite intuitive, and easy to use. I don't mind key wording as it is a small amount of up front time which saves a lot of time (for me) on the back end.
Love or hate it - we should all appreciate the time and effort Mr. Evening took to present his point of view in a clear and understandable fashion .

Thank you sir!
Art Guertin

6 upvotes
JWest
By JWest (Dec 29, 2012)

It's interesting how much we Lightroom users love to preach about our software. You only need to look at the comments section to see a definite dividing line between people who don't understand the appeal, and people who are touting Lightroom as the best thing since silver halide.

2 upvotes
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